Vermicomposting! I've saved the best for last. I love my worms. They enjoy the bits of food that I don't eat and I can use their poop for plant nutrients. It is an incredible relationship. They are currently feasting on some avocado that went bad, pomegranate skin, banana peels and potato peels. It costs very little to set up a vermicompost bin and zero money to maintain.
Vermicomposting is a great option for folks without yards or green space in their home. My worms hang out in our laundry room. I put the toilet paper wrap in their bin, brown paper wrapping, old newspapers and other paper that would otherwise need to be recycled in their bin. Yay for worms - the ultimate waste reducer and recycler!
Get an outdoor compost bin! If you have an outdoor space that is part of your home, this is one of the most impactful ways to reduce waste. Outdoor composting has been one of the most life changing routines I've ever taken on. It is amazing to see my food scraps, jack-o-lanterns, dead flowers, etc become beautiful, healthy nutrients. Composting is the way to go, and I would love to see more friends who have yards commit to composting in 2019. Compost S'cool has workshops on composting running throughout the summer, as well as drop-in opportunities, online pamphlets, a phone hotline and so much more.
Produce and bread bags as a replacement for plastic bags. I use these everytime I buy fruits or veggies and am getting more into loose breads! I keep them in my reusable grocery bags so that they are part of my shopping routine.
You can buy these at Earths General Store as well as lots of places online. They wash super easily and are very durable. Those nasty plastic bag rolls in grocery stores create so much unnecessary waste. These reusable bags will be a major help in cutting down on plastic waste!
Use your paper for all it's worth and make scrap paper pads! At work I go through a lot of paper that only has content printed on one side. Before I put it in the recycling, I use them to make scrap paper pads. Super simple - cut the sheets into 4 and staple them together. You can simply tear off the top page when you've used it to make notes and then recycle it once it's no longer needed.
You can also find half used notebooks at the ReUse Centre and use them up before going out to buy something brand new!
Solid shampoo and conditioner! This is a great alternative to liquid shampoo in plastic bottles. As someone with a lot of hair, I used to go through shampoo bottles fast and contribute to the recycling bag. Solid shampoo bars are awesome because they come without packaging, they are compact and they last for quite a long time considering how small they are.
I've been rotating three different solid shampoo bars from Lush for at least the last 5 years. My favorite is called 'New'. Earth's General Store also sells solid shampoo bars and they can be found online from many different companies. This would be a great gift for someone looking to switch things up and you can also purchase a tin for it if they travel alot.
Reducing your waste also includes reducing the amount of plastic going to the recycling facility. Package free is the way to be!
Games and puzzles for the holiday season - used or traded! A great way to avoid screaming at your family during the holidays is by playing games or doing a puzzle together. Puzzles and games are plentiful and cycle through thrift stores and antique stores all the time. Save some money and buy used games and puzzles! Yes there is a small chance a piece or two will be missing but are you going to frame it? Does it matter?
It's also a great idea to do a puzzle swap with friends - keep it fresh without spending any money or buying anything new!
Don't buy new holiday decor - make it! I am a huge fan of paper crafts for holiday decor. I buy a big scrapbook paper pad of holiday patterns and it lasts for years. I made this winter bunting a few years ago and will use it every year as long as I can. It folds up so small and when it eventually has met the end of its life, I can recycle the paper and compost the string.
This year I added the paper stars and wreath. It can all be recycled so easily and cost very little to make. There are so many tutorials online about holiday home decor craft, the possibilities are endless. My dear friend Alex made me some crochet ornaments which I adore. Let's stop bringing plastic into our homes for the holidays.
Also check out thrift stores and antique stores for adorable vintage decor and ornaments if you do have cash to spend on 'new' items.
Eat your vegetable scraps! Scraps can have another life before they go in the compost (or garbage) - veggie stock! This is an awesome way to save money on purchasing soup stock and an excellent way to make the most of your veggies.
I've done this by putting scraps in an old tortilla zip plastic bag. You can add scraps in until the bag is full and then make a big batch of soup stock.
You may find a lot of veggie scraps being produced around the holidays for big feast preparations. Try saving them for some January soup!
Edible or consumable host gifts and exchange gifts. If you are the kind of person who gives the party host a gift or participates in gift exchanges where anyone could end up with it, opt for consumables. This could be something like fancy olive oil, wine, homemade cookies, delicious snack foods, candles, a gift certificate, etc. Something that has an end to it's life. Often I see gifts that aren't all that exciting or inspiring floating around that will never go away.
A consumable can be shared among the household and often are recyclable (i.e glass the candle came in, olive oil bottle). They also won't end up cluttering someones home.
Beer lovers - try out a growler! Growlers are a really awesome way to buy beer in specific quantities in a reusable fashion. My favorite place to fill up my growler is at Situation Brewing - their website doesn't have info on this, but on location they have clear pricing and sizing. Growlers can be used over and over again, they simply need to be washed between refills. I don't drink a ton of beer at home, so being able to buy a smaller quantity at a good price is a great option for me. It's also much easier for me to bike to Situation in the summer and keep my growler in my backpack than to pick up a case or cans.
Growlers are a really awesome gift, especially if someone is hosting a party.
I have also used my growlers to bottle home-made kombucha as they are easily filled and cleaned.
Here are some links for more details on growlers in Edmonton.