So, somehow, we’re over half way through November - and if you’re finding yourself perplexed and at an utter loss of where on earth all the time has gone, you’re certainly not alone.
It’s here that it can be easy to dwell on what we’ve lost and forget what was gained throughout the year. It’s with this that the power of consumerism comes to light, allowing it to get the better of us as we enter the holiday season and no doubt feel the need to lavish our loved ones with gifts galore. We know there is a fine line between what is generosity and what is superfluity when it comes to the art of giving – but where do we draw it?
Here, the question is beckoned:
What is waste?
It’s one thing to tighten the purse strings in the name of frugality, but with the recent news that we now have just approximately 12 years to save the planet remaining, we’re beginning to feel a matter of urgency that, for many of us, may tread unfamiliar grounds.
Enter the zero-waste movement.
The very premise of ‘zero-waste’ is to see waste before it occurs. With this, we flip our usual mentality of leaving what’s left until last, and instead planning it out before it happens to give ease of transition and peace of mind.
Delving deeper, we begin to realise that the very concept of this movement extends far beyond the products we buy upon face value and into the realm of moral judgement, where we question the ethics of the companies and conglomerations we are supporting – whether it be directly or indirectly. We make a conscious decision to join the dots, realising the correlation between the materials we use and thus the sub sequential demand that arises.
Bearing this in mind, perhaps the safest and arguably most appropriate option is to let go of material things, disposable things; instead focussing on what enriches us both physically and mentally. If you’ve ever heard the term ‘it’s the thought that counts’, you’ve probably envisioned a painful cliché in which an unwanted and nonsensical gift – think a toothbrush or pair of socks – is met with a feigned smile in the hopes of not hurting the other’s feelings. But here’s the truth: when we give our time, we don’t slip the receipt in a fold of the wrapping paper ‘just in case’ the recipient would like to exchange it. When we give our time, we never worry that we may encounter it in the second-hand shop in the next few days, or in the hands of someone else for reason of ‘better use’.
So, how can we give thanks this holiday season without waste? How can we spread love and gratitude? When we give our time, we demonstrate the value of the person, or people, we share it with. This could be anything from tickets to events, or helping decorate a new home to giving piano lessons. Anything memorable that will make a lasting impact, only giving something that would result in waste as a last resort.
If you’re hosting a thanksgiving dinner, it’s important to break down the different elements that make the evening up: decoration, food and drink. By separating, it makes it easier to approach from no-waste perspective. It’s important to remember that we should approach this as though we are slowly wading rather than diving in at the deep end with no notion as how to swim. It’s a drastic lifestyle change, but rewarding nonetheless.
On the topic of decorations, pop in to a local florist and pick some blooms to bring a warm, wintery theme and fragrance throughout the home. You could even ask for any left over mulch or cuttings and have a go at making your own potpourri – which would make fantastic party favours!
Source as much of your fresh ingredients as possible from either a farmers market or nearby unpackaged store. By doing this, we are not only reducing our carbon footprint, but also adopting an active role in the community and supporting small businesses. Remember to request that whatever you buy is either wrapped in recyclable paper or packed in your own reusable bags.
If you’d rather make a day of it, head straight out into nature with some friends to gather some trimmings for yourself. Encourage them to bring flasks and if you’re feeling like a top host, you could make a large batch or tea or hot chocolate to share!
It goes without saying that no true sustainable dinner party would use disposable cutlery, crockery and napkins. It speaks volumes about how your guests see this event – special, thoughtful and crafted with care. If you’re expecting a large amount of people and don’t feel capable to cater to all of them, feel free to arrange a potluck dinner where everyone takes their dish home with them. Again, going back to the roots of the holiday and bringing a sense of community. When storing leftovers, go for bowls and beeswax wraps rather than cling film or tin foil. It’s cleaner and keeps your food fresher for longer.
Challenge yourself this Thanksgiving, not only to reduce the amount of waste produced from celebrating it, but keeping its intentions at heart by being thankful for all that we’re lucky enough to have and keeping our loved ones close.
Lastly, ask yourself what you are thankful for. What does your gut tell you?
“I am thankful for a planet that I can make conscious decisions to protect”
“I am thankful to have a body that I treat with love and respect”
“I am thankful to be surrounded by people who care about me”
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Using some fantastically fresh, in-season veg, avoid food waste and roast some Brussels sprouts for a delicious vegan side dish. With a total prep time of just 35 minutes, this will make thanksgiving dinner a breeze. Be sure to multiply the recipe according to how many guests you are expecting – this recipe caters to 2.
• 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
• 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
• 1/4 teaspoon cumin
• Pinch of cinnamon
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread Brussels sprouts across the parchment. Sprinkle with garlic, drizzle with coconut oil and maple syrup. Salt and pepper lightly.
2. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice as the sprouts cook to evenly brown the edges.
3. Remove, serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkle of dried cranberries, if desired.
For a super-simple fix, gather some fresh fruit and the natural sweetener of your choice and simmer together for a delicious cranberry sauce.
• 1 bag of fresh cranberries
• honey, agave or maple syrup
• water (to desired thickness)
• one orange zest
• dash of squeezed orange juice
Combine all fruit and syrup in a shallow pan and gently simmer wish a dash of water. Slowly bring to a boil and add sweetener to taste. Add as much water as you like until it has reached the desired thickness. Leave to cool and serve!