The mosquitoes are still out but there is a slight crispness in the air. Fall and the holidays are approaching fast. Time flies when you’re writing environmental articles every week! It’s been a while since I’ve done a quick reminder column of things you can do to get your mind thinking about the true cost of your decisions. And you’re about to be inundated with holiday shopping hoopla, family knows best talks and workplaces teaming with water cooler crap. Here’s a list of environmental decisions and some quick tips of how to spread a little sustainable cheer the next few weeks.
First up, Thanksgiving. Where are you headed? How are you getting there? Prep your vehicle in advance. Properly inflate tires, check oil, drive the speed limit and keep your gas tank over one-quarter of a tank. Prep your own fuel for the road, too. Don’t rely on poor quality and high environmental cost fast food to get you to your destination. Pack a small cooler with food for the road. I’ve even packed hot food and used a gas station microwave before to heat up my soup. Delish!
Make real food for Thanksgiving. I feel like Thanksgiving has been taken over by crap food. Stuffing should not come from a pre-made bag full of preservatives that just needs water. Buy the bread, season it and make your own. The quality is better for you and the environment. Check your turkey’s ingredients label. You’ll be surprised. Who knew a whole turkey had ingredients on the ingredient label?! It does and you’ll be shocked. Don’t buy crap.
I’ve already received some invitations for some potlucks and parties. If your work event is a potluck, make something homemade, organic, tasty and healthy. What?! Yes. Just do it. You’re not going to win everyone over but it’s subtle encouragement for people to enjoy the lavish food but not to go completely rogue. There are healthy options. I’ll be making a healthy version of mini pumpkin muffins to replace the piece of pumpkin pie everyone wants. Tweet me for the recipe (@naimajeannette).
The other quick tip about potlucks and work events is to throw a reusable to-go container in your purse or bag. You can use it to eat off of instead of the paper plates or, even worse, styrofoam and then you can pack up some leftovers to take home or leave in your office fridge for the next day! So simple and quite possibly my best tactic for potlucks. Everyone always comments on the genius of it and I hope it secretly plants a seed in their mind.
Alright, let’s talk about the onslaught of consumerism that’s about to occur. Don’t let the marketers and culture fool you. You do not need to buy random crappy gifts for everyone on a huge holiday list. I repeat: you do not need to buy gifts for everyone. Thoughtful moments, experiences and small gestures go a long way instead of a random mug full of candy and Post-it notes. Stop the insanity. Start now.
How will you honor the people around you this holiday season? We usually honor our family with food. Living in Dallas gives us access to a ton of food options that many places simply do not have. We load up on speciality food items like sweet potato noodles (glass noodles), organic cheese and fresh homemade bread and fill our family’s bellies. This year I’m considering making a donation to a nonprofit for both sides of our family. Something that is meaningful for all of us. What could you do that’s out of the box and yet still meaningful?
REI is promoting their #OptOutside campaign this year for Black Friday. Their doors are closed on one of the busiest days of the year to encourage people to think differently and spend time outdoors. Fight the commercials and ads and go outside this Black Friday. I promise, you’ll be happier with yourself at the end of the day.
Bring on fall and bring on the craziness. I’m prepped, ready and going in with a positive mindset to think about how every one of my choices and purchases affects the environment. I’m ready to counter with creative ideas that minimize environmental impacts. I hope you are too.