What started as a plan to use up food in our house before holiday travel is now an annual tradition of lightening our footprint prior to the holiday excess. Last November, my daughter and I were in the kitchen discussing how to best use the food in our fridge and turned it into a No Waste November challenge.
As the days went on, we found ourselves saying things like “unplug that charger, it’s No Waste November!” We took a more holistic look at our wasteful habits. It felt great to lighten our footprint as everything ramped up to the season of lights and disposables. By the end of November, we were more thoughtful about many of our daily choices. And although we’ve slipped in some years, I’m excited to start it all over again this month in an effort to balance out the holiday fun to come.
Here are some of the ways we were able to lighten our load and stop wasting resources, food and even money:
1. Recycle everything that can be recycled
Even the toilet paper rolls!
2. Use BottleDrop green bags and return cans and bottles
I get the kids involved with this one and let them keep the money for holiday shopping. You can also give to a whole list of charities by opening a BottleDrop account.
3. Eat what’s in the fridge and pantry before buying more food
Did we have some weird meals toward the end? Yes. Did I find I was throwing away less? Yes! When my fridge was sparse, I could also see the items shoved to the back, check the dates, and pitch the no longer good ones. Throwing away all of those things made me aware of how much we were wasting by not having a good inventory of the food we had.
We decided to eat down the food in the pantry, too, and the same thing happened. We realized we let non-perishables slip to the back and expire. And since we live in Oregon where we need to be prepared for the big one, I restocked right after the holidays, but put the new stuff in the back.
4. Walk to close destinations, even in the rain
I have an umbrella, cute rain boots, and a walk to the store or school pickup is a great way to get some exercise. Walking to the store also helped me with impulse buying because I had to carry it home.
5. Don’t buy more of what we already have
The holidays are right around the corner and our extended family loves to spoil the kids. Instead of buying the new book from the series my kids love, I put it on their wish list for Grandma. We take the opportunity to read the books and play with the toys we already had before the wave of new stuff comes in the door. After No Waste November I feel more at peace bringing holiday gifts into the house, knowing we have used what we already had.
6. Unplug things that aren’t in use
Look around at all the outlets and find a lot of ways to pull the plug. My daughter even pointed out that we should unplug our toothbrush chargers and only charge them when needed.
7. Turn off the lights
As it gets dark earlier the lights are getting flipped on more, and it’s the perfect time for a reminder. After all, next month we’ll be lighting up a tree.
8. Take a reusable cup to the coffee shop
Here is where I have really slipped. I love a cup of coffee when I’m out and about. I do pretty well making my own cold brew and using a glass jar in the summer, but once the rain starts, all bets are off. I like a hot cup in my hands and sadly I allow that cup to be paper most days. No Waste November is our chance to look at all of our habits and think about how to waste less. Since I’m an impromptu coffee buyer, I have decided that this year I’ll keep a clean, reusable cup in my car, ready to deploy at the sight of my favorite stops, Coava, Stumptown, or Crema. (Note: double check that locations are still allowing reusable cups due to COVID-19 restrictions or accommodations).