Growing up Halloween has always been representative of dressing up and going out at night to trick-or-treat. As a kid, Halloween was a fun holiday for me because if all the free candy we would receive as we went out at night to go trick-or-treating. I didn’t grow up with much candy in my household so Halloween also meant that I would get to stock up on a large amount but I also had to ration my favorite candy pieces to last for awhile.
When I moved towards a zero waste lifestyle this holiday became slightly tricky. A lot of the joy I experienced came with the inevitable result of producing trash. All of the small wrappers of the individually wrapped candy pieces added up to a lot of trash. I wanted to figure out how to celebrate this holiday but still practice my zero waste lifestyle.
There are three areas of each holiday I like to tackle: decorations, food and entertainment. For Halloween, you can decorate your spaces using
- Reusable fall and Halloween decorations which you can pull out each year
- Use dried leaves from trees in a bowl or a jar. I usually string rope across areas of rooms and I’ll hang up the leaves using clothespins.
- Use fresh fruit or vegetables as edible decor such as pumpkins and then once the holiday is over, you can even make delicious dishes using thm
- You can arrange twigs and fall leaves in a vase
- You can tie pieces of sticks together and create a wreath to decorate with colorful leaves
- Any decoration that is compostable or reusable is a great option
Food options can vary due to location, seasonal fruits and vegetables available.
- Look for seasonal fruits and vegetable to make dishes with
- Some seasonal vegetables to keep an eye out for: pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, sweet potatoes
- Some seasonal fruit to look for: cranberries, apples, pomegranates, and grapes
- Search for recipes available on the internet for this seasonal favorite. Websites such as YouTube , Pinterest , All Recipes, Food Network, Better Homes and Gardens and Taste of Home. If you’re anything like me, my searches always start with “simple” in front of my topic because I tend to lean towards simple ingredients and fewer steps when making dishes.
- Bulk candy is also a great way to sneak in sweets during this holiday. A lot of bulk candy locations have a variety of options from chocolates to sour candies. The grocery stores I frequent have these options but my local movie theater has the name brand candy in bulk, that I love to eat as well.
For Trick-Or-Treaters, consider handing out non-candy options. I’m still a big believer in feeding a child’s creativity so some of these items on the list are geared more towards art than just toys. During this season, children are usually in school, so if you hand out items they can use during school, it’ll also benefit the children. Here are some options other than candy, that you can hand out:
- Bouncy Balls
- Play Doh
- Coloring books
- Mini notepads
- Halloween Pencils
- Mini slinkies
- Bookmarks Pencils
- Halloween Erasers
- Hand out mini packets of herb seeds
- Loose change such as dimes and quarters
- Decks of playing cards
- Compostable packaged snacks (crackers, raisins, pretzels, etc.)
Entertainment can vary depending on what you have planned during Halloween.
- Check out costume rental stores, they always have a lot of variety and sizes to choose from, but remember to to check the stores early so there are more options available
- Check out thrift stores for options of clothing to create your costume from
- For families, check if you can swap costumes with neighbors, classmates or friends. You can even set up a costume swap meet if that helps get the word out.
- Borrow clothes and items from friends, family or neighbors to see if you can assemble your costume and look of your character
- Board Games or Card Games
Check out these other blog posts from some other Eco-Sustainable Bloggers:
I hope this list is helpful in creating a zero waste Halloween. If you choose to adopt only one of these ideas, you’re still helping the environment by creating less waste. It’s a step away from the standard Halloween traditions but it’s a more environmentally friendly outline for this holiday. Have a great Halloween!
Having an Eco-friendly holiday isn’t as daunting as it sounds. It might sound complicated because the concept is different, but it’s actually pretty simple. So for each holiday there are basic aspects of the holiday celebration I like to check off: decorations, food and entertainment. I don’t always cover all three categories equally and majority of my focus will usually be on the food.
Decorations tend to be covered easily being that Christmas is such a huge holiday celebrated. Honestly, any type of decoration that is compostable or reusable is a good idea. Here are some ideas for zero waste holiday.
- Decoration Ideas:
- Seasonal leaves, fruit, create a centerpiece suing branches and colorful seasonal leaves.
- Use existing jars filled with some seasonal and colorful leaves to decorate the table
- Use branches and leaves from outside to decorate the table surface
- Zero Waste Food
- Consider using fresh fruits and vegetables as ingredients in your dishes. You can compost the skin or the non edible pieces after
- Buy your ingredients from the bulk aisle or bulk bins
- For ingredients that usually come in packaging, consider making your own homemade version or looking for it in paper, aluminum or glass packaging
- Share recipes or give the gift of different types of dishes to one another
Gift ideas can be tricky for this holiday since it’s based around an iconic tree as well as what surrounds it on Christmas Day. However, here are a few ideas for zero waste gifts, you might want to consider. Check social media sites (Groupon, Living Social, Ticketmaster, etc.) for great deals for events and activities for family and friends during the holidays.
- Gift Ideas:
- Compostable Gifts
- Food, snacks, bulk candy wrapped in reusable packaging or compostable packaging
- Buy bulk foods and create a recipe kit for a gift
- Seasonal fruit, fruit basket gift
- Gift of Goods and Products
- Consider checking out thrift stores to find a gift for the recipient
- If you want to give a new gift, look for gifts with no packaging or recyclable paper packaging
- Gift of Experiences
- Sporting events ( football, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, baseball, etc.)
- Theme parks (check for local theme parks near you or near the recipient)
- Outdoor experiences (pedle boating, wind sailing, kayaking, rowboats, canoes, skydiving, zip lining, rock climbing, trampoline time, golfing, etc.)
- Gift card or money for food & drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinners, coffee, tea, desserts, wine bar, wine/beer tour)
- Gift card or money for activities (cooking classes, yoga, spin class, kickboxing, zip lining, etc.)
- Gift card/money for events (museums, concerts, festivals, fairs, movies)
- Gift card or money to treat yourself (spa, massage, facial)
- Service Ideas (This will differ based on location, so check your local listings)
- Volunteer for a charity or organization that will help hand out food during the holidays
- Donate toys, clothes, coats, shoes to an organization that will help distribute them this season
- Volunteer your time in a hospital, care home, nursing home to those who may not have family near or at all
- Gift Wrapping:
- Reusable cloth gift bags with string to tie bows (if wanted)
- Fabric sheets or bandanas to wrap and tie around gifts
- For the larger gifts, I’ll use a pillowcase or really large bed sheets to wrap the gifts
- For medium sized gifts, I’ll wrap the gift in an extra t-shirt.
Entertainment during the holidays can be daunting as well. Usually families have kids around or simply need entertainment playing while the day is happening.
- Movies- if you are able to stream movies, there are a few great resources to stream holiday movies during this time. Check YouTube or other streaming media, they usually have full movies uploaded to watch.
- Board Games – Ask your guest if they have any board games to play or would want to bring for the kids to share and play with
- Card Games – these games are always fun because a deck of cards can be really versatile
I hope this outline helped to brainstorm ideas for you. This is an overall idea list and if you want to check out other holiday blog posts, check out these holiday blog posts from these websites:
As someone who likes to make my routines as simple as possible, I also try to create simple cooking habit routines as well. This approach simplifies the ingredients I buy and my grocery shopping haul trips. Here are seven simple tips and tricks for cooking hacks.
1. Focus on Whole, Single-Ingredient Foods
- Whole, single-ingredient foods are the key to good health.
- Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, poultry and eggs are great examples. These foods are incredibly nutritious and satisfying.
- When you focus on whole foods and high-quality ingredients, you will automatically start to eat less processed junk foods.
- Processed foods often come with misleading health claims and long lists of ingredients, many of which you can’t even pronounce. However, truly healthy foods don’t even need an ingredients list. They are the ingredient.
Bottom Line: Eating healthy can be quite simple. Stick to whole foods and avoid processed foods made with refined ingredients and artificial chemicals.
2. Use Simple Flavorings
- If you buy high-quality ingredients, you don’t need to add a lot of flavoring. Olive oil, salt and pepper may be enough.
- Fresh herbs can also do wonders for a meal.
- Try to avoid buying new flavorings unless they are something you think you will use often.
- If a new recipe requires hard-to-find spices and condiments, you can most likely replace them with something you already have.
- A rare ingredient that you will end up using only once is a waste of money and space in your kitchen. Most of the time, you can stick to common ingredients that you already own and know how to use.
Bottom Line: You don’t need to own a lot of rare ingredients in order to add flavor to your food. Simple ingredients like high-quality olive oil, salt and pepper can be used in almost anything you make.
3. Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet
- Most people keep a lot of herbs and spices on hand. That’s perfectly fine, as long as you use them regularly and don’t have duplicates.
- If your spice cabinet is disorganized and overflowing with spices you never use, you might want to tidy it up a bit.
- Try to combine duplicates into one container and donate spices you never use. Throw away/compost spices that are old or bland.
- Having a tidy spice drawer will help you cook faster because it will be easier to find the spices you’re looking for.
- A good rule of thumb is to go through your spices at least once per year.
Bottom Line: Having a tidy spice cabinet will make you more efficient in the kitchen. Keep spices you use regularly within reach and combine duplicates. Throw out old spices and donate the ones you never use.
4. Keep an Organized, Minimalist Pantry
- Keep a clutter-free pantry stocked with quality foods you use regularly. Preparing healthy meals will become much easier.
- A clutter-free pantry also makes your food less likely to spoil, since you’ll be able to see all your food items neatly organized.
- You’ll find it easier to navigate your pantry and locate the items you’re looking for when cooking. Here are a few tips to help you organize your pantry:
- Optimize storage: Store items you often use on the bottom shelves or near the front. Items you use less often can be stored in the back or a little higher.
- Sort and group: Designate shelves for similar items, such as keeping your canned foods on one shelf and your breakfast foods on another.
- Label everything: Label all of your pantry items and store them in clear, well-sealed containers so that your foods don’t spoil.
- Increase accessibility: Try to place items so they are either directly accessible or you can reach them after moving just one item.
Bottom Line: Taking the time to plan and organize your pantry will make both shopping and cooking easier and more enjoyable.
5. Simplify Your Kitchen Tools
- There are tons of clever gadgets you can purchase for your kitchen.
- Yet many are nonessential, single-purpose appliances.
- You don’t need fancy kitchenware to cook a great, healthy meal. Simple meals require just a few basics.
- If your kitchen is cluttered with items you rarely use, consider selling or donating them. Focus on keeping the functional items you use on a regular basis — it’s a plus if they serve multiple purposes.
- However, figuring out what’s essential is entirely up to you. This varies, and something you regularly use may seem unnecessary to someone else. What you use depends on your lifestyle, how you cook and what kinds of foods you like to eat.
- Try storing the items you rarely use in a box. If you haven’t opened it in six months, then it’s probably safe to sell or donate those things.
Bottom Line: You don’t need highly specialized, fancy tools for most tasks in the kitchen. Consider selling or donating kitchenware you don’t use often and keeping only the most useful kitchen items.
6. Think Before You Shop
- You should think carefully before you purchase a new kitchen gadget.
- Start by asking yourself if you really need it. If you’re not sure, think it over for one week before you decide to buy it.
- Setting yourself a rule of “one in, one out” may also help. So for any new item you bring into the kitchen, another needs to go.
- Think creatively and you might even be able to use something you already own in a different way than you’re used to.
Bottom Line: When it comes to kitchen appliances, less is more. Think carefully before you decide to add another item to your kitchen, especially if it’s an item that’s designed to perform just one specific task.
7. Clear Your Kitchen Counter
- It’s time to de-clutter your kitchen counter.
- Store kitchenware you use less frequently in your cabinets and drawers instead of on the countertop.
- This is especially important if you live in a small apartment with limited counter space.
- You’ll have more room to prepare meals and you’ll probably enjoy cooking more if there is less clutter around you.
- This will also allow you to be more organized and focused while cooking.
- If you need to keep items on the kitchen counters because of limited cabinet space then make sure they’re frequently used and essential for food preparation.
- If you like to store items like keys, mail and wallets on your kitchen counter, make sure everything has a place where it belongs.
Bottom Line: Kitchen counters tend to attract clutter. Keeping them clear will give you more space to prepare meals and enjoy your time in the kitchen.
Quick, easy and simple are always my goals when I do any type of task. If I can hack a procedure to simplify steps in any task, then I will. I find more value and satisfaction in saving time and energy when I do tasks. I’m simply not the type to make extravagant dinners or parties. There are always ways to simplify life and that is always a goal in life for me. My personal hacks might cut out one extra step but one less step is still saving time.
Cooking Preparation Hacks
When you’re in a hurry, and you need to eat or prepare food fast, here are some hacks that I use so I can speed up the preparation process.
- Using a spoon to scoop and round produce or vegetable that fits in the palm of your hands
- Hard boiled eggs, avocados, kiwis or any other small round produce that will fit in the palm of your hand
- Dicing or Cutting on a cutting board
- To change the direction of the cuts, rotate the cutting board or move your own position towards the board. Don’t move the produce on the cutting board.
- Sliding produce to pan from cutting board
- Once done with dicing or slicing your vegetables on the cutting board, use the opposite side of the knife blade to slide the chopped items the pot or larger container. This way, you don’t ruin the blade of the knife.
- Cutting oranges
- Cut oranges in half by cutting the first slice horizontally, and then create the divides from there. That way you create small triangles when you peel bech each individual slice.
- When cutting long vegetables
- When cutting long vegetables, always cut the produce in half for each cut, so it takes less cuts to reach the desired length.
- When I cut carrots it’s in a similar manner. I cut them in half and then split the halves into halves. I pretty much use this method for most any vegetable I cut.
- Extracting garlic
- Gently extract garlic out of its skin by using the side of a large knife and simply pressing on it, on the counter. The garlic will loosen from its skin and simply cutting off the end of the garlic will release the skin from the garlic meat
Serving Food Hacks
A lot of my workday consists of time management so my hacks really stem from my desire to save time.
- Serving Food
- I use glass tupperware bowls when I eat, that way, if I have leftover food, I throw on the tupperware lid and I’ll have leftovers for a snack or for another meal. Also, there are less dishes to wash after the meal.
- Mugs with handles are our friends for foods that have temperature issues such as hot soups, or cold ice cream.
I keep a small desk essentials kit at my work desk so that I don’t have to carry items back and forth from home constantly. I keep some loose leaf green tea along with a tea infuser, and some dry snacks. At my job there is a kitchen with a microwave, an electric kettle ready for employees, so I base my small kit on the available resources. In my bag which I do carry back and forth from home, I keep a stainless steel travel mug, and a set of utensils along with a fabric napkin. The reason why I keep my utensils and coffee in my bag is due to the fact that I like to be ready to go out to eat when the opportunity arises. I also will use my coffee mug for coffee, teas and water as well.
The variable items that I tend to carry is my stainless steel water bottle, whatever lunch I’ve packed for the day, and my “to go” breakfast which is usually oatmeal in a small mason jar. Depending on the days schedule or how much time I have before I step out of the front door I may or may not carry along the variable items.