How to Be a Conscious Consumer During the Holidays

’Tis the season! November and December are full of festive holiday celebrations, time with friends and family, lots of travel, and gifts. It’s easy to get caught up in it all and lose sight of your conscious lifestyle, whether that’s living low waste (hard with all that gift wrap!), eating healthy foods (pass the pumpkin pie), or flying across the country. Here are my favorite tips for having a mindful holiday season.

Be a conscious traveler

Whether you are traveling by train, plane, or automobile, consider the environment and always be prepared. For flights, you can offset your carbon emissions. I love to bring a travel mug and tea bags to the airport and ask a coffee shop to fill me up with hot water— free, healthy tea! Avoid snacks on the plane (bring your own from home— stasher bags are perfect for this!) because those plastic cups aren’t so great for the environment. And go paperless with your boarding passes by using your phone. Always be sure to bring all your toiletries (another good use for stasher bags!) so that you aren’t stuck grabbing an extra plastic toothbrush from your hotel or the local drug store.

Balancing your healthy habits

It’s really easy to lose sight of your healthy living habits when surrounded by pumpkin bread and pecan pie. My theory? Enjoy yourself! But do so mindfully— be sure to eat that pie with intention and not just because there’s a leftover, store bought, not-so-great quality pie sitting on the counter. I also recommend bringing your own snacks with you if you are visiting friends and family (I bring dark chocolate bars, nuts, sometimes fruit) so that if there isn’t something I am excited to indulge in, I’m prepared. Or if you have certain eating restrictions (like you’re gluten free or dairy free), offer to make the dessert and make it in a way you can eat it!

Grab the recipe for this Vegan Frozen Hot Chocolate Fudge

vegan frozen hot chocolate fudge

Holidays can also bring up a lot of stress and lack of alone time— so take care of yourself! Find somewhere to meditate, or do a 10-minute yoga session using a YouTube video. I find journaling also to be a very helpful, quiet, easy to travel with habit that keeps me grounded. And don’t forget to be present— when you are with your family and friends, truly be there. Enjoy that special time. Put down your phone or maybe unplug completely for a few days.

Maintain your low waste lifestyle

Trash is abound during the holiday season. Between hosting parties and gift givings, it’s not always the simplest time of the year to be low waste. I recommend always traveling with your low waste living essentials. For me, that includes a water bottle, a travel coffee cup, reusable cutlery, a reusable napkin, a reusable straw, and of course some stasher bags for snacks or shopping in bulk. I will bring them if I am going out of town or to a party in case they are using plastics. That way I can always be prepared and cut out a large amount of plastic I might need to consume.

If you are hosting a holiday party, consider using real table settings so you don’t have as much waste. Compostable plates are also an option but of course they are only environmentally-friendly if you can find a commercial compositing center that can compost them properly. For your parties, be sure to visit the farmer’s market for your menu and even table decor (I love squash, pumpkins, fresh flowers!), and shop in bulk for items like nuts or grains.

Give meaningful, sustainable gifts

Gifts can be one of the most fun part of the holiday season, or the most wasteful and stressful! For choosing gifts, I always try to make sure I buy from responsible and sustainable brands (B Corp-certified brands are a good place to start), shop for gifts from the local community (I love buying gifts from local stores instead of Amazon),  and practical gifts that will get used. Asking people what they want may take the surprise out of the gift, but it makes it a much more appreciated gift by the receiver and cuts down on returns or gifts that end up in a pile somewhere or being donated… I recommend wrapping your gifts with leftover newspaper or tying it up in a beautiful napkin or cloth that the person can reuse (this is called furoshiki in Japan and is a such a beautiful tradition!).

Shop our Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide full of gifts that give back! 

stasher's sustainable holiday gift guide

Overall, explore the holiday season out of the lens you always do— as a conscious person who is doing the best for themselves and the planet! Use the opportunity to share those values with your friends and family by speaking to them about the actions you take, and showing them through the ways you host them and give gifts. They will appreciate it, and the planet will too.

This post was written by Sara Weinreb. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, founder of The M List, contributor at Forbes, and shares it all on IG @saraweinreb

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