Staying sustainable throughout the winter holidays

Staying sustainable throughout the winter holidays

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Finally, the exams are over and the holidays are around the corner! A time filled with having Christmas dinner(s) with family and friends and celebrating together with gifts. Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it is the time to have a deserved break from studying and have cozy nights in with friends (with an appropriate amount of people, of course 😉 ).

However, this is also a time of year known for its extravagance, where consumerism and wastefulness reaches a yearly peak. This blog post is filled with ideas to inspire you to keep the sustainable spirit up during the holidays.

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A sustainable Christmas dinner

Let’s start with the basics: shopping. Before going grocery shopping it is helpful to make a clear list of what you want to make and what you would need for that, to ensure you won’t overbuy when you’re at the store. After that, the grocery shopping can begin! It is important to consider a few things about your ingredients; try to use seasonal and local products with low (or better: zero) amounts of packaging! A great place where you can for instance find such products is the Saturday market at Salverdaplein, where since November this year extra room has been made for sustainable products, produced within less than 15 km around Wageningen, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. When you’re not sure what vegetables are in season, check out the blog post on seasonal local food. It’s also important to remember to always bring your own shopping bag and, when buying fruits or vegetables in the supermarket, your own reusable little bag. The AH for instance sells reusable ‘verszakjes’ (‘to keep fresh bags’).

In this post we also want to inspire you with some recipes for a Christmas dinner! You can get a lot of inspiration from Bianca Zapatka a vegan food influencer. We will start you off by showing you some of our picks! As a starter, the “smoked salmon” (which is made out of carrot). This could also be ideal as a little bite in between the starter and main dish. Moving on to the main course, a twist on a very classic Christmas dish was chosen, the Mushroom Wellington . Lastly, for dessert, chocolate mousse is on the menu! We must admit – even within the writing team we had quite a hard time making the dessert choice, which is why this recipe for cinnamon rolls is also definitely worth mentioning (our blog writer Malou baked them last week and highly recommends them, see the picture). 

As for the Christmas table decorations, you can DIY your own, with things you can find in nature, like fresh greens or wooden sticks. Of course bear in mind to never damage the plants, but take for instance things that are already on the ground! Moreover, it’s good to know that beeswax candles or sustainably produced soy candles are much better than the often sold paraffin candles. 

Once your delicious Christmas dinner is finished, it is likely you will have leftovers: don’t forget to freeze them or use them for a tasty lunch the next day! Bon appétit!

Source: Malou Blonk

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Sustainable gifts and wasteless presents

No matter what state the world is in (pandemic or otherwise), there is something about the act of gift giving that brings feelings of warmth and joy. Especially when it’s cold outside and people have started lining the hedges with twinkling lights, the stores have put their best offers for their best products or the advertisements of all best online sales and deals at every corner of our phones. While giving gifts is a wonderful notion, there are some gifts that just go the extra mile of not only bringing joy to its receiver but to planet earth as well. Thinking sustainably while buying presents is not as daunting as it seems but is actually quite straight forward. Here are some great ideas to help you get started on the right track. 

First, arguably one of the most obvious gift ideas that comes to mind when thinking sustainably are plants. Along with their benefits of cleaning the air, they also come with added benefits of being stimulating desk additions to our home offices. Next on the list are travel mugs and reusable bags which are also great gift ideas that would not only help reduce waste but also encourage us to take our own coffees on the go or even get us great discounts at some of the cafes. Along the lines of waste reduction, why not gift your loved ones presents made from recycled waste like phone cases or backpacks made of recycled materials. Also, reusable straws, travel spoons or eco-friendly food wraps (such as beeswax wraps or soy wax paper) are always welcome gifts for anyone.

Now that we have established a variety of ideas to get you started, let’s talk about wrapping them. While we have to admit that there is some undeniably beautiful wrapping paper out there, we have to realize that wrapping paper usually ends up in torn unusable bits just before the presents are revealed. Although there are some out there who take the time to unwrap gifts with the same care with which it was wrapped. Well, if you are one of them, congratulations! You can give these papers another life by reusing them. As for other sustainable gift wrapping ideas, the first one would be to reuse old papers of any sort. You can crush it up to give it more of a textured look or keep it sleek and finish it off with bold ribbons. Wrapping gifts with ribbons, scarfs or T shirts are also great options. This counts as giving extra gifts. As for labels, we have seen an array of colorful autumn leaves of all shapes and sizes. Why not go on an adventure to collect your own autumn leaf labels that are totally unique and completely sustainable. 

Now that you are armed with all these ideas, you are not only prepared to have a blast during Christmas but also be one satisfied kitty for being sustainable about it. We hope you have a safe and sustainable holiday and come back refreshed after the well deserved break.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Source: Vanessa Spencer

By Aishwarya Muralidharan, Lisa de Graaf & Malou Blonk

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