Many years ago, when my family was the only year round family on remote Gotts Island I actually did "Black Friday." Black Friday is literally going to a mall after Thanksgiving and buying stuff. I believe it came about because I listened to a talk radio station out of Boston. This is long before talk radio was so political, of course the station talked national and local politics but also covered many human interest stories, food, psychology. For me, it was background conversation while I worked alone in my log cabin. I'm sure I was influenced by all the ads for Black Friday- it seemed the thing to do.
So we headed ashore- no easy task- involving boats and our car. I have no idea what we bought. Probably broccoli and other fresh vegetables. It was crowded, we ate at a fast food joint and by the time we got home we were all cross and grumpy. That's my one and only Black Friday adventure.
This year, celebrate sustainably and slow down. There is no need to pile the family in the car, deal with hordes of people to buy cheap stuff made in China. There are so many other things to do.
#OptOutside was started by the outdoor gear company REI a few years ago. They are closed for business the Friday after Thanksgiving. REI's mission is to connect people with each other and nature instead of spending time shopping for bargains.
Another alternative to Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day. This began in Canada to highlight overconsumption. Instead of shopping the idea is to slow down and participate in a community event, get outside or even spend a bit of time doing what you love. It's a perfect day for some self care.
Both #OptOutside and Buy Nothing Day are movements and philosophies. We're a small business which depends on sales to survive. We understand how complex the world and economies are. We also knowing making choices about your purchases is a way to vote for the kind of economies and world you want.
9 Ideas for #OptOutside & Buy Nothing Day
1. Take a walk no matter what the weather is. Bundle up, put on rain boots or rub in the sunscreen- just get outside.
2. While outside pick up trash. There's nothing like picking up lots od single use plastic to help you make better buying choices.
3. Clean out a closet, cupboard or room and donate useable items to your local charity shop.
4. Write letters, postcards or call family and friends far away.
5. Make holiday cookies or gifts.
6. Read a book, play cards or do a puzzle.
7. Get some ART and visit a museum or gallery.
8. Dedicate some time to self care, give your self a facial, a hot soak in the tub or simply a bit of time doing whatever you love most.
9. No matter how you spend the day- do an activity that nourishes you and helps your community and environment.
Halloween is coming. I actually love this holiday especially when I was teaching. It's an opportunity to celebrate the season, indulge in goodies and a chance to dress up and pretend.
The problem with all holidays is our enjoyment creates mountains of trash- bags of candy, plastic decorations and tiny toys make a lot of trash.
Here are some ideas to help you put the green into trick or treat bags.
Plastic free candy is a challenge, look for candy wrapped in foil or paper or cardboard boxes. They will be bulk packed in plastic but it is better than handing out plastic wrapped candy.
It's easier to skip the candy and pass out other sorts of treats. My favorite idea is a bowl of nature items including shells, sea glass, acorns and stones. If you live in the city this would be a real novelty for some kids.
Paper straws are a great treat to help raise awareness about the problems of plastic. Amazon sells boxes of 150-300 and depending on your street a single box could last a few years.
Sidewalk chalk, tiny cookie cutters, pencils, erasers, bandages, magnets, coloring books or printed coloring sheets, remelted crayons all are lower waste treats and last quite a bit longer than candy.
You can also buy an activity card set and hand out one card per child. Your local bookstore or toy shop will have a selection. Expect to pay around $10-12 for a deck of 50 cards.
The website Teachers Pay Teachers has some different printables including Halloween Yoga cards and Halloween PE. Download to make cute books, printable bookmarks are another option. The downloads cost between $3-5 making these a fun and cheap treat.
The materials to make a craft are also nice treats. Friendship bracelets made from embroidery thread are a calming way to end the Halloween frenzy. You can make a kit for each trick or treater and include directions. Here is a link-DIY Printable Friendship Bracelet .
I hope this blogs helps you think about ways to celebrate without making lots of extra trash. Handing out an eco item can help raise awareness about our planet. Let's all work to make Halloween more green.
The winter solstice is fast approaching, many of us have had our first snowfall and with all the cheerful twinkle lights it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We have lots of sustainable gifts and stocking stuffers for family and friends. Our holiday gift guide has suggestions for all the unique personalities in your life.
The Bearded Guy-a beard is a gift you give your face
Give some beard love this holiday season with our Beard and Scalp Oil.
The Comedian- laugh and the world laughs with you
Give the power of seaweed with a bar of Weed n' Shrooms soap or Seaweed it’s Legal Canva Bag
The Bathing Beauty- happiness is taking a long bath
Make every bath extra special with our Hot Island Bath Tea or Bath Effervescents.
The Stressed Mom- stressed is dessert spelt backwards
When mom has had too much it's our botanical perfumes to the rescue.
The Tattoo Artist- it's always a good day for a tattoo
Keep skin art looking good with our all natural, chemical free soothing Tattoo Butter.
The Vegan- be kind to every kind
Pure and natural vegan butter.
The Gardner- to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow
Give the gift of flowers and soft skin with our gentle Gardeners Scrub.
Sleeping Beauty- prioritizing good sleep is good self love
Bring on the Zzzz's with our balm or roll on.
And finally the stockings were hung by the fire with care
Place our shower shots on the floor of your shower and let the fun begin. Aromatherapy for every mood.
Since World Ocean Day a few years ago I have worked hard to reduce my footprint both in my personal life and in business. The holiday season brings special challenges. Part has to do with memories, I was talking with a friend recently about gift wrapping. She said, "I love to wrap gifts, it's part of my Christmas season." But- how we choose to wrap makes a big difference. Elaborate, non biodegradable gift wrap leaves a lasting footprint. To help you have a trash free holiday I've listed 14 ways to hopefully get that holiday glow without the trash.
#1 Buy Well- Choose Less When shopping for gifts, resist the impulse to buy a cute but useless item that will not linger after the holiday. Check out how items are packaged. My daughter loves gummy bears- I can buy a cute plastic package of bears, a reusable bear mason jar filled with gummies or take a cloth bag to the candy shop on Main Street. What's important to remember is you have choices.
#2 Shop small, shop local. Supporting small, indies businesses lets your money continue to work long after you've spent it. You can find companies that support your values and are working hard to reduce their business footprint.
#3 Even if you have decided to limit your holiday purchases or to make donations to worthy causes help out indie business by supporting them in other ways- especially on social media. Our blog post Make Your Money Count and Use Less Plastic gives practical tips.
#4 Purchase lasting gifts that help reduce everyday waste. Reusable coffee mugs, bamboo straws, shopping bags, produce bags, shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes.
#5 Wrap your gifts in cloth, brown paper lunch bags, newspaper or tissue paper made from recycled paper. Easy to recycle or compost.
#6 Give the gifts of plants. Paperwhite bulbs are especially lovely during the winter months.
Amaryllis bulbs create a splash of color and I plant mine out in the garden every summer so many of my bulbs are 4 years old and going strong. A seed sprouting jar is a low waste way to have fresh tasty greens in salads and sandwiches all winter long.
#7 Gift certificates make in possible for folks to get just what they need or want and if they are from small, indie businesses the good keeps going.
#8 Donations are a great way to spread the love. Choose your favorite organizations and let them start the New Year ready to get important work done.
#9 Give the gift of an experience. Every year I treat my family to New Year's Day brunch at our local farm to table restaurant. I love starting the New Year in a bustling restaurant with a Passionfruit Margarita, a basket of home baked breads and the lively conversations of my loved ones.
#10 Look around the house for items to regift. Sometimes regifting has a tacky connotation but it's a perfect way to reduce and reuse. While cleaning recently I found a huge stash of yarn bits. Someone will be happily knitting all winter long.
#11 While you are rummaging for regifts, clean out the closets and pass useful used items to the appropriate charities.
#12 Give the gift of clean and get outside and pick up some trash. Believe me- it's everywhere. Check out the organization Just Grab Bits . I especially love their Instagram page- it's a bittersweet trashy tour around the world.
#13 Decorate with natural materials including evergreen, pine cones and berries. If you are buying decorations make sure they are well made and will be used and loved for many years. Completely avoid balloons, "they kill wildlife, pollute the earth and waste helium". Check out Balloons Blow- Don't Let Them Go for more information.
#14 Give a subscription. Fact checking is expensive and subscriptions show support and help attract advertisers.
My final tip is the one I've had the most fun with. I want to help people make the transition to plastic free as easy as possible. Two areas I struggle with are single use coffee cups and plastic free produce. I have started "Random Acts of Awareness". I purchase reusable mugs from my favorite coffee shops (helping to keep it local) and then leave them on the counter for someone ordering a take away coffee in a single use cup.
I'm almost ready to do the same thing with some homemade produce bags. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I cut up an old sheet and put together a bunch of cloth produce bags. They are almost ready to be donated to shoppers reaching for a plastic bag in the produce department. Learn more about the plastic free produce movement by visiting Australian Anita Horn's Facebook page.
Happy Trash Free Holidays!