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How to be more sustainable this Christmas

The festive season is here! Family dinners are a big part of this joyous time, but we all know the chaos that follows as we prep for family visits. Shop Zero has asked me to share some simple tips to help you be a little more sustainable this Christmas.

Buy in Bulk & Package Free

Prepare ahead of time and avoid the rushed shopping that usually takes place the day before Christmas. Not only will you save money, you won’t be inundated by plastic packaging. There are many small, local, ethical businesses that provide high quality produce with no to minimal packaging. Many deliver as well, which is always a bonus when you’re busy entertaining family.

Shop Zero offers dried goods in bulk bins and also takes online orders to make it even easier for customers to #shopzero waste.

Compost Food Scraps

If you haven’t already started, now is a great time to invest in a Bokashi Bin and compost your kitchen scraps. This small act makes a huge difference reducing greenhouse gas emissions and your overall waste in landfills! A step to living more sustainably made easy. The planet (and garden) thanks you!

Sustainable Home Storage

Glass jars do the job, but these days there are many options available to us: Stasher Bags are multi-purpose silicone bags that have become an essential in my home! I use them to freeze, boil, microwave and store food. But they aren’t limited to my kitchen! I use them as travel toiletry bags, a lunch box, take-away pouches and as a home for my phone and keys when I decide it’s a wonderful day to be at the beach. Whether it’s for yourself or as a gift, Stasher has made sustainable storage effortless. It’s especially useful around small children. So, whether you use them as storage, to prep frozen meals or to extend the life of your leftovers Stashers are the way to go!

Stasher bags make a great gift for kitchen enthusiasts, fitness fanatics, travelers, earth-lovers and everyone in between.

Soy Wax Wraps are also great to replace many of the roles plastic cling wrap and foil played in our kitchens. They also make a cute sandwich bag! And at the end of its life, you can compost it.

EcoBrick

We still exist in a linear economy and many of us still accumulate annoying pieces of plastic like price tags, stickers or store receipts printed on shiny thermal paper. These items can’t be recycled and to avoid sending them to landfill you can ecobrick these items into a plastic bottle. The bottles must be tightly filled so a full-grown human can stand on it without it showing the slightest dent. Shop Zero is happy to collect your ecobricks and donates them to projects who use them as building materials. Although the ideal is not to create waste at all, at the moment this is the most sustainable solution to an existing problem.

Get Wrapped up in Sustainability

Wrapping gifts for loved ones can be creative and sustainable. I keep a lot of the paper wrapping that came with online orders throughout the year. The paper is often brown and cream in colour, and is also very often recyclable and compostable. It’s also a canvas for unleashing creativity… Whether you create your own stamps to create patterns or free hand with Soy Pastel Crayons, it’s guaranteed that your present will be unique. Shop Zero also provides Seeded Paper Gift Bags that add an extra pinch of joy to the person receiving it as well as beautiful Reusable Fabric Gift Wraps made from off-cuts and upcycled into a sustainable wrapping alternative to traditional paper gift wrap.

These eco-friendly soy pastels are made to bring more colour, calmness and creativity into your life.

Go Greener with Greens

Experiment this festive season with greener dishes and less meat. There are more and more delicious and fun vegan replacements and recipes filling the South African market. Shop Zero has a great selection of Fauxmage nut cheeses and even Vegan Droëwors you can add to cheese plates or incorporate as snacks. Going greener with your diet is good for you and the planet. It’s probably one of the most sustainable things to do this festive season!

Sustainable Gifts

In my family gifts are optional, but if that’s a big part of your family traditions then it’s important to make them sustainable. •Purchase experiences instead of things. •Buy second hand gifts. Save money and resources it took to create them. •Make a donation on behalf of someone. There are great projects and organisations that work towards creating a more sustainable tomorrow. • Buy them what they need, something they would appreciate. It could be their Netflix subscription for a month or two, or paying a bill. •If you have to purchase something new, make sure it’s from a sustainable, ethical and local business.

If you’re looking to give gifts to help family and friends on their own zero waste journey, Shop Zero has gifts for every person at any price point and I can recommend these:

R100 and under
Stainless Steel/ Copper /Glass Straw & Straw Cleaning Brush
Coconut Bowl
FreshBags veggie or bread bags
Masterstock Cape Wild Food 50ml bottle
Nourish luxurious body/ face soaps or shampoo bars                     

R200 and under
Market string bag
Hemp printed shopping bags: exclusive to Shop Zero
Back2Nature vegan face & body products

R300 and under
EcoffeeWilliam Morris reusable bamboo cup
Reusable drinking bottles
Composter: bokashi bin & bran
Kuro-Bo water filters
Tiffin food and picnic storage tin
Book: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

About the author: Marissa is a zero (or rather low) waster, environmentalist, public speaker and eco consultant. Contact her here to book a consultation or workshop. Give her a follow on Instagram over @lowimpact_rissipit for zero waste inspiration and adorable dog photos.

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To gift or not to gift…

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It’s that time of the year again – festive season madness.  While we as Shop Zero do not promote consumerism and encouraged customers not to buy anything (excluding your essentials of course) during the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail campaigns, we are also realists and understand that gifting is a tradition for many during this time.

Sustainable festive gifting
I personally believe the trick is to handle it responsibly.  After two decades of attempting to mimimise our family’s festive gift budget, we have finally settled on a gifting solution that works quite nicely for everyone.  We all put or names on individual pieces of (recycled) paper, pop the names in a bowl and then each family member draws a name.  You will then ONLY buy a gift for that person whose name you drew and it has to fall within the allocated budget (which is R300 in our case).  This way everyone gets a gift and you can buy something decent for that amount – first prize being from a second-hand store.

Sustainable living inspiration
Why limit the joy of sustainable living to the festive season?  Let it be the start of a new lifestyle, one that focuses on being more aware of your impact on the environment.  Attempt to eliminate that which does not serve your health or the well-being of this planet.  Start by looking at what you consume on a daily basis and ask:
1. Is it all necessary?
2. Where can I cut back on waste and excess?

Introduce small changes instead of trying to tackle everything at once, which might become overwhelming and discourage you from the end goal: being kind to yourself and this beautiful planet.

For example: If you notice you love and eat a lot of chocolate, how can you still enjoy this treat in a healthy and responsible way?  Easy… through informed substitution!

Take Soaring Free Superfoods Raw Chocolate.  Although it comes in packaging, its Certified Organic Raw Cacao in home compostable packaging means it’s organic,  it’s a superfood and it’s packaged earth friendly.  By swapping a refined sugary chocolate bar wrapped in non-recyclable plastic for wholesome Raw Superfoods Chocolate, you know you’re doing the right thing, since the chocolate is fair trade, unprocessed and packaged in resonsible packaging.  You can even cut up the packaging and pop it in your bokashi composter bin.

This is a small example of turning an old ‘bad’ habit into a ‘new’ constructive one.   This process will become second nature if you continue to ask these simple questions as you navigate through your daily consumption habits.

Sustainable gift guide
If you are looking for sustainable gifting ideas that have a positive impact on our planet, here are some suggestions.  These really are gifts that keep on giving as they are ALL reusable and make a real difference to reducing your plastic waste:

R100 and under
Stainless Steel/ Copper /Glass Straw & Straw Cleaning Brush
Coconut Bowl
FreshBags veggie or bread bags
Masterstock Cape Wild Food 50ml bottle
Nourish luxurious body/ face soaps or shampoo bars

R200 and under
Market string bag
Hemp printed shopping bags: exclusive to Shop Zero
Bamboo toothbrush & travel case
Back2Nature vegan face & body products

R300 and under
Ecoffee/ William Morris reusable bamboo cup
Reusable drinking bottles
Composter: bokashi bin & bran
Kuro-Bo water filters
Tiffin food and picnic storage tin
Book: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Book: The Magic of Superfoods by Peter & Beryn Daniel

Happy sustainable shopping and remember, every small change makes a huge difference.  So even if you don’t shop zero waste yet, aim to shop eco-friendly.

The festive season is not necessarily a religious occasion for our family, but it is the only time we are all able to all take leave and come together as a family to look back on the year, be thankful for our blessings and spend quality time together.  We wish our Shop Zero customers and followers the same and more.

If you have any other sustainable tips and tricks or any ideas for responsible gifting solutions, please share it with us and post them in the comments here.