Tag Archives: diy christmas

plastic-free gift wrap that’s kind to your wallet and the planet

Nat King Cole plays in the background, as a hot cup of tea sits on your table. Your living room is littered with presents and paper and ribbon and tape, as you begin – wait, where’s the tape?

Sound familiar to anybody? (Yo, I can’t be the only person who loses the tape every. single. time. I set it down. ;))

I actually really enjoy wrapping presents. It’s therapeutic to me. But to some folks, wrapping presents is the worst part of the holidays – need I bring up the tape again?

For the last few years I’ve really tried to limit my waste when wrapping present. Here’s what you’ll likely need to wrap your gifts more sustainably this year…

MATERIALS

I’ve been collecting newspaper, ribbon, tissue paper and gift bags for the last year. Anytime paper was stuffed in one of my packages from Amazon or Earth Hero, I tucked the paper away and recycled the rest. If I got smaller boxes, like ones from RMS Beauty and Elate Cosmetics that contain my makeup, I saved those bad boys, too.

When it comes to reusables, save and save and save.

For example, glass jars. I’ve got a cupboard full of glass jars with lids. I use them for anything from grocery shopping (buying bulk!) to carrying left overs to holding salad dressings to stuffing them with gifts for the holidays!

Same goes for paper. If you get paper in the mail that you could reuse – do it! I have a box brimming with different size boxes and papers and ribbon and all sorts of stuff I’ve gotten over the past year.

If you’re looking for some cute ways to make your gifts more sustainably packaged this year, here’s a few tips.

SUSTAINABLE GIFT WRAP IDEAS

1. Buy twine/string that comes in paper. I got a spool of twine that came in black and white/red and the only packaging it came in was paper! I found this at Target. Also, I found ribbon that was mainly in paper. Clutch!

2. Opt for paper bags! I bought a bunch of brown craft paper bags from a craft store and I’m using them for lots of presents this year. You can jazz them up with some ribbon or greenery and add some tissue paper.

3. Look for tissue paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. It can be hard to find sometimes, but it’s out there! Also, reuse your tissue paper as much as you can. I like to save tissue paper and other items from packages that have been shipped to me. I have a whole bin filled with tissue paper and other packing paper that I use for my Christmas presents!

4. Get creative/go outside. I cut off a few pieces of a pine tree to use as decoration on my boxes and bags. You can use sticks and pine and all sorts of wintery items to dress up your stuff.

5. Opt for paper tape, or use minimal tape. I didn’t use tape in 2019 when wrapping my presents. Instead, I reused boxes and wrapped ribbon or twine around it. The boxes stay shut just fine that way! This year, I invested in paper tape. I got mine from Amazon, but I’d recommend getting some from Etsy. Here’s a link to one I’d recommend. Or, if you want Christmas-y paper take, here’s an option.

6. Use fabric! This year I used an old piece of fabric (it was once a skirt), cut it, and tied a knot around my present. It’s a fun and free way to wrap your presents – and it’s helpful when you are trying to get rid of clothes, or have clothes that aren’t in good enough shape to drop off at the thrift store.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

Less is more. When you’re wrapping something, don’t feel like you have to go overboard. Often, a simple paper bag with some tissue is all you need.

If you see family and friends tossing out tissue paper or boxes, take them with you! Tissue paper can be reused over and over again. Same goes for wrapping paper, boxes, gifts bags, ribbons and anything else.

As far as name tags go, you could write the person name directly on the bag. Or cut a piece of paper into a circle; inside the circle write their name. Then punch a small hole through part of the circle and, using twine, tie it onto my gift. It’s recyclable and simple. Or, use paper tape! That’s what I’ve been doing lately.

How are you wrapping your gifts this holiday season?

waste-free holiday gifts that won’t break the bank

Christmas is around the corner and it’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to buy the perfect gift during the holiday season.

Let’s face it, Christmas can be suuupper stressful.

AND when you’re trying to be more mindful of your waste and plastic use, it can be even MORE stressful.

I’ve been doing some research (and trial and error!) recently and I’ve found some pretty cool, low-waste, inexpensive gifts for family and friends.

Some of these are more general ideas, others are more specific options. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while Christmas shopping this year:

  1. Why am I buying this person a gift? Is it out of obligation because they’re more of a distant relative that I’m not super close with, but I’ve gotta show up with SOMETHING for them to unwrap on Christmas? Or is it someone that means a whole lot to me?
  2. What’s important to that person? What do they value/talk about often?
  3. What are their hobbies? And what can I give that will be practical?
  4. Can I make them something?
  5. What will be something they will actually use?

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with…

ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: PARENTS, FRIENDS, GRANDPARENTS, SIBLINGS…

dcb_1351I’m not saying to go out and buy a brand-new book (although, you could do that if that’s more up your alley, or better yet, buy one second-hand!). I’m talking about actually giving one of your parents or your best friend a book that’s been super influential to you.

I truly believe a used book is full of magic. Within the pages of that book, someone’s imagination and creative mind is seeped into the fibers of each page. Someone else was wrapped up in the same world you’re reading about… someone else was feeling the same overwhelming excitement you felt as you read those same words. There’s something raw and important about that. There’s some sort of deep connection between people who share a book — I don’t know how to explain it but I swear it’s gotta be true.

Share your favorite books with the people you love! You won’t regret it 🙂

HANDMADE JEWELRY FROM A LOCAL ARTISAN/SMALL BUSINESS

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: MOMS, GRANDMAS, SISTERS, FRIENDS, COWORKERS, RELATIVES….

dcb_1373These earrings are made by my dear friend Maggy and her husband Evens. They run a business called Haitian Shore Beauty and all of their jewelry is made from sea glass from the beaches of Haiti. You can find their Facebook page here.

Check out some small businesses near you that sell artisan-made jewelry. Or check out some fair trade stores like Ten Thousand Villages or Mata Traders for some super trendy, quality jewelry (and other goods!)

MASON JAR CONCOCTIONS

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, SIBLINGS, COWORKERS, RELATIVES, BOSSES…..

dafe (2 of 10)The options are pretty much endless when it comes to packing things into mason jars. The jars are glass, so they can be reused or recycled, and you can really customize these jars to fit whoever you’re shopping for. Remember to buy items in bulk when you can!

You can find lots of different sizes in mason jars, especially at second-hand stores!

Pinterest has more ideas that I could possible fit in one blog post, so check out Pinterest for some specific concoctions. But here are a few ideas….

Hot chocolate mix
Cookie or cake mix
Candy or chocolates (buy bulk!)
Recipes using dried ingredients

Hand soaps (buy a foaming pump and use Castile soap, avocado oil, essential oils and water and you’re all set!)
Homemade candles
Homemade face mask/beauty products

Homemade lotions
Snacks
Tea (buy loose-leaf and in bulk!)
Coffee
Popcorn (bulk)

QUALITY BEAUTY PRODUCTS

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: MOMS, AUNTS, SIBLINGS, COUSINS, FRIENDS, COWORKERS, BOSSES….

Below are some of my favorite companies where you can find quality products with sustainable packaging…

Meow Meow Tweet*
Fat and the Moon
Burts Bees*
Plaine Products
EarthHero products
Pacifica*
Shea Moisture * (Shea Moisture is black-owned, B-Corp!)
Dr. Bronner’s* (a B-Corp!)
Elate Cosmetics
Beautycounter (a B-Corp!) – a little pricey!
Zao Organic Makeup
*available at Target for easy shopping

If you’re looking to purchase some “treat-yo-self”-type gifts…. check out these guys! They offer plenty of face masks and lotions and lip balm! Lots of their items come in sustainable packaging, too!

REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: LITERALLY ANYBODY

f1057e8e-17c0-4e1a-b747-09412ec7ccc4One of the easiest steps in limiting your waste is using a reusable water bottle and coffee thermos. Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen are two top rated brands on the market. They’re meant to last for YEARS. They’re a bit pricey, but totally worth every penny. They come in different colors and sizes, too!

COMPOSTABLE PHONE CASE

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: AGAIN, LITERALLY ANYONE. BUT ESPECIALLY SIBLINGS AND YOUR NIECES AND NEPHEWS

img_6197

Pela case is a compostable phone case company. I’ve been using my case for months and it’s holding up great! Obviously it’s not going to give the same level of protection as an Otterbox… but I’ve dropped my phone a few times with this case on and my phone doesn’t have a scratch (knock on wood!).

ESSENTIAL OILS + DIFFUSER

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: AGAIN, LITERALLY ANYBODY

I personally use Young Living oils. Just remember, essential oils aren’t the most sustainable product – but they have serious benefits! Use them sparingly and aim to find oils that are made as ethically and sustainably as possible.

HEATING PAD/WARMING PILLOW

A GOOD PRESENT FOR: LITERALLY ANYBODY

dcb_1386My local health food store, the Health Hut, sells these flax seed heating and cooling pads. You either warm them up in the microwave or cool them down in the freezer. They’re made with sustainable cloth and come pre-wrapped.  An item like this will last a while and it could be good for your family or friends who often get aches and pains. A standard heating pad is always a good option too!

ADDITIONAL IDEAS FOR ANYBODY

UncommonGoods: This is one of my favorite stores to buy birthday and Christmas gifts. First of all, they’re a B-Corp. Second, they support other smaller businesses who create quirky, nichy items. Third, you can just about guarantee your gift won’t be like anyone else’s 🙂 They have a whole section dedicated to gifts for under $25. And there are options for more expensive gifts you could partner with others to give.

An experience!: Consider buying someone an experience. Date nights, concert tickets, museum memberships, etc. Buying someone an experience doesn’t produce waste, and it’s something they’ll actually enjoy.

Fair trade options: Check out Made Trade and Ten Thousand Villages for some dope fair trade gifts. From jewelry to decor and clothing, they’ve both got awesome options.

Etsy printable: Etsy has some awesome artists that allow you to pay a few bucks to print the picture out yourself! Grab a cheap frame from the thrift store and you’ve got a cheap and unique gift for someone.

For kids: Crayons and coloring materials; wooden toys (check out EarthHero for some dope options!); an experience like a membership to the Children’s Museum; secondhand toys that can be easily sterilized at home.

Sustainable beauty supplies: EarthHero is one of my favorite shops for all things eco-friendly. Check out their items here. Also, they’re a B-Corp – double win! Items like wooden hair brushes, bamboo tooth brushes, organic cotton hair ties, etc….can make great stocking stuffers.

Bamboo or wool socks: Two sustainable options for socks that you can find online on EarthHero, Etsy, Package Free Shop, and others.

DCB_9988

BANGS Shoes: This company sells awesome shoes. 20% of the proceeds go to Kiva, a company that invests in entrepreneurs around the world. Instead of giving people free shoes, this company supports the thought that if you give a person a fish, you feed them for a day, but if you teach a person to fish, you feed them for a lifetime. And it’s supporting entrepreneurship and creativity!

Wool scarf: Package Free Shop last year added alpaca wool scarfs to their site and they’re awesome.

Tote bags/reusable bags: Reusable cotton produce bags make awesome gifts. They can be used for, obviously, produce, but they can also store other things too! Or, they’re even cute as a wrapping paper alternative. My friend Agnes from Andinda Design makes all kinds of cool products using second hand cotton! She makes cotton rounds, bento bags, produce bags, pouches and lots more. Check out her Etsy shop here.

Quality blanket: Everybody could use a good blanket! Look for some that are made sustainably or with recycled or eco-friendly materials.

dafe (6 of 10)

Leaf cuttings: Trim off a few cuttings of your monstera or pothos and stick it in an upcycled jar with some water. It’s a fun little gift to give to someone looking to up their at-home jungle vibes 😉

Loose-leaf tea + strainer: This is definitely a gift I’d LOVE to have. You can find some really great loose-leaf tea at the grocery store — or a local tea shop — and pair it with a strainer. Loose-leaf tea tastes better and it’s much better for the environment!

French press; coffee bean grinder; bamboo or stainless steel straws; to-go cutlery (check out EarthHero!); quality cloth + glasses case for those who wear glasses (anyone else struggle to keep your eye glasses clean!?)….etc.

dcb_1379

DIY foaming soap: Buy a foaming pump (unfortunately I got mine off Amazon) and add it to a smaller lid mason jar. Add castile soap, essential oils and some oil of your choice (I like avocado because it’s moisturizing!). Fill it with some water and you’re good to go!

dafe-1-of-10

Check out second-hand stores! This might sound like I’m just trying to be cheap, but I’m really not. Second-hand stores can have incredible stuff! I’ve gotten lots of friends and family members gently-used books that look like new! You can find toys and clothes with the tags still on. You can even find some pretty quirky items, too. Stop by your local thrift store and see what you can find 🙂

Note: This story was updated Nov. 2020 with additional information.

kickin’ it old school with holiday decorations n’at

I’m not a big seasonal decorator. I tend to keep things simple. I typically like white Christmas lights (though we’re using red this year because my aunt gave them to us for free!) and minimal Christmas tree ornaments.

That’s just my style.

And this is the first year I won’t be living at my parents house for Christmas.

Mike and I decided to do holiday decorations a little bit differently this year. We wanted to keep a zero waste mindset while not quenching the Christmas spirit.

Here’s how we’re keeping our holiday decorations low waste this year:

THE TREE

We went to Lowe’s and bought a Norfolk Island Pine tree that already came in a planter.

It’s like a miniature pine tree but instead of throwing it away after Christmas, we can keep it as a potted plant in our home!

We’re thrilled with it! It’s small and fits perfectly in our studio apartment.

Lots of stores carry these plants, including Walmart and some grocery stores. They’re typically less than $20 and will live way longer than a traditional Christmas tree.

Other options for a tree….

If you’re using a fake tree currently, keep using it! You’re better off getting good use out of it than throwing it away too early.

But if you’re in the market to buy a real tree, you’ve got some options if avoiding unnecessary waste is on your mind.

There are several pine trees that come in planters, similar to the Norfolk one we got. There are also trees that can be planted in the ground after the holiday season!

Check out what your local lawn and garden shops have — you might be surprised at the options that are available!

THE ORNAMENTS

For ornaments, we went old school.

I cut up oranges and cooked them in the oven on 200 degrees for 6 hours. I cut them about 1/2 inch or thinner and put them on a baking sheet. I flipped the oranges over about 3 hours in. They turned out great!

Once they cooled I cut a hole in the fleshy part and tied some string around it, making a loop.

You can do this with lots of different fruits! Limes and lemons are great options, or grapefruit, or even apples! Just be sure to monitor the oven while they’re cooking to make sure they don’t burn.

We also made ornaments out of mason jar lips. I took some fabric scraps I had and covered the flat part of the lid. Before connecting the second piece of the lid, I put a piece of string in between and then connected them together. I tied a loop in the string and tied it to our tree.

Instead of having an angel or star as our tree topper, I took some extra fabric and tied a bow at the top!

Other ornament ideas….

The options are endless — truly. Pinterest has some killer ideas! You can stick to zero waste options like food and fabrics. You can also make your own ornaments by gluing or tying different sticks together or adding flowers to your tree.

You can kick it old school and string some popcorn and cranberries and dress your tree up that way! You can use cinnamon sticks or gingerbread cookies.

Get creative and have fun!

Other decorations…

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going all out when it comes to Christmas decorations! If you already have lots of decorations, maybe you don’t need to buy more this year. Or perhaps consider donating some of them to Goodwill or different consignment shops.

If you do choose to buy new decorations, check out second-hand stores. Or consider buying something locally made or that’s quality/eco friendly.

Lastly, if you do decide to buy more decorations, think sustainably. What will last the longest time? Don’t always think about the most inexpensive item — think what will last the longest and be a quality item.

Happy holidays everybody!