Grab your coat and put on your mittens, because winter is finally here! And what better way to celebrate the season than by showing our planet a little love through eco-friendly actions? While it is important to take sustainable initiatives all year-round, we present to you a tried and true list that will make your winter wonderland a whole lot greener.
Whether it’s freshness, nutrition or simply decreasing your carbon footprint, there are countless benefits to eating seasonally. But why is eating seasonally better for the environment, you ask? By eating foods that are in season, they are more likely to be purchased from a local grower, meaning less gas and energy were used during transport. And don’t forget the added bonus—since these fruits and veggies did not need to be harvested early for shipping, the odds suggest they were picked at their peak ripeness, meaning better flavor for all of your dishes. Challenge yourself to make your next winter feast one that highlights seasonal foods such as pomegranates, persimmons, sweet potatoes and kale!
Practice zero waste gift wrapping
It’s no secret that waste has huge environmental impacts, and did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash between November and January than any other time of the year? If you’re going to be exchanging gifts this winter, it’s time to ditch the paper bags and single-use gift wrap for more sustainable (and arguably more aesthetically pleasing) zero waste alternatives. Swap out paper bags for stylish totes, replace wrapping paper with leftover fabric or even upcycle your favorite newspaper by crafting bows like in this DIY.
Purchase a reusable tumbler/lid
We get it, it isn’t winter without a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte. An easy way to be a little greener this season (or, you know, all year) is to invest in a reusable lid or tumbler to hold all of those delicious drinks you’ll be consuming. Despite a seemingly global push toward sustainability, over 500 billion disposable coffee cups are still tossed each year. We recommend purchasing a lid and coozie from Cuppow— which will transform any mason jar into the perfect reusable on-the-go cup—but coffee shops and department stores across the nation offer a variety of stylish and eco-friendly options. Starbucks, Peet’s and Cal Poly Pomona‘s very own Saddles Cafe are just a few locations that offer discounts if you choose to reuse.
Drop off food scraps at your local compost bin
If you’re planning on cooking this winter (and we know you are), consider dropping off food scraps at your local compost bin. Food waste is actually the number one material sent to landfills, and composting is a simple and important way to eliminate this waste with the added benefit of reducing the use of chemical fertilizer. While creating your own full-sized compost bin is always encouraged, many people don’t have the time, space or materials to make their own (but here’s a link to make one just in case because hey—they’re pretty cool). If dropping off is more your style, pick out a container that will fit in your freezer, line it with newspaper, chop up scraps (here’s a list of what can and cannot be composted) and drop it all off at your local composting site (which can be found at findacomposter.com) every one to two weeks.
Find energy-free decoration alternatives
While it may be tempting to adorn your home with multi-colored fairy lights this winter, take a step back and consider if the very permanent environmental implications are worth a temporary spectacle. According to Globe At Night, excessive outdoor lighting not only wastes energy but has potential to disrupt the ecosystems of nocturnal animals. Instead, consider investing in decor that can be used annually or crafting some eco-friendly DIYs that upcycle products you no longer use. Keep in mind that if you are going to be using lights after all, LED lights are known to consume up to 95 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts.