With the holiday season starting up, it’s a good time to think about ways to bring joy not only to your friends and family, but to the world around you. As you plan your holiday gatherings, consider supporting the Asheville community this season and do the environment some good with these eco-friendly celebration suggestions.
Spend your dollars locally
There are so many ways to support local businesses this holiday season, from the Thanksgiving feast to gifts under the tree. Farmers’ markets around Asheville are brimming with locally sourced fresh meats and poultry, seasonal veggies, and baked goods to make celebrations around the table a sumptuous – and sustainable – affair. If you don’t want to do all the cooking, locally owned restaurants and grocers can cater complete meals or fill in with house-made mains, sides or sweets.
When it comes to holiday gifts, there’s no shortage of Asheville-based crafters for sourcing one-of-a-kind creations. Or consider a gift card to one of Asheville’s locally owned restaurants or boutiques. Shopping local – whether it’s for food or other products – not only supports small business, but it does away with the long-distance shipping and fuel usage so detrimental to the environment.
Deck the halls – sustainably
If you plan to decorate for the holidays, do it mindfully. Rather than purchasing disposable decorations, bring in pinecones, colorful fallen leaves, acorns, interesting branches and the like for your Thanksgiving table setting. Replace older string lights with more energy-efficient LED or solar-powered models, and put them on timers. Wrap gifts creatively, using fabric or recycled paper, or package presents in reusable boxes or baskets.
After Christmas, consider turning your old Christmas tree into a natural bird feeder, or use the trunk, branches and needles to protect perennial beds from winter’s freezing temperatures. You can also recycle your old tree at the Buncombe County Landfill, where it will be turned into mulch.
Nix the food waste
With extravagant holiday meals come lots of uneaten food and tossed leftovers. To avoid food waste, begin by cooking smaller portions. Repurpose leftovers for subsequent meals – you can even make stock from that picked-over Thanksgiving turkey. If you have substantial leftovers from a large party, consider donating them to an Asheville-area shelter. For food scraps, now might be a good time to set up a home composting system.
Give back to the Asheville community
Maybe you have a few days off around the holidays and you’re looking for a family activity: One good way to spend an afternoon is helping out in the community. Consider volunteering at Manna Food Bank or one of the holiday soup kitchens around Asheville. Grocery shop or cook for a neighbor in need; invite those who are alone to share a holiday meal with you.
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