Celebrate Holidays in a Sustainable Way

The holiday season is upon us! For die-hard sustainability ambassadors this can be a frustrating time of year as we watch our friends and families (and possibly ourselves) indulge in shopping, rich or highly processed foods, and an increase in trash and plastic around our homes.

The holidays can be enjoyable and an opportunity to make new sustainable habits. We asked some of our favorite Urban Ambassadors how they plan to make their holidays a little nicer to the environment this year.


Make Conscious Food Choices

“I am cooking LOTS OF PLANTS! I will be composting my veg scraps and using cloth napkins. Though I eat plants, compost and use cloth napkins everyday so I suppose that's not unique to Thanksgiving. Though I am also not traveling this year so I am cutting down on pollution!”

-Shauna Fessler

“I try to buy common holiday foods like sweet potatoes, turkey, and ham from local producers I trust. I use the Iowa Food Cooperative, where I work, or LocalHarvest and Facebook to find producers who sell products I feel good about putting on the kitchen table.”

-Ash Bruxvoort

Recycle Holiday Decorations & Wrapping Supplies

“We've used the same gift boxes (and often, ribbon and tissue paper) in my family for about 20 years. We used Iowa Food Cooperative-sourced ingredients to make 600+ cookies last weekend, too.”

-Alexson Calahan

“We use a homemade advent calendar from my childhood, which my mom gave me last year.”

-Kathie Gonzales

Find more recycled holiday crafts here!

Shop Local for Gifts

“I have done personalized gift baskets with local ingredients from the Iowa Food Cooperative, including:  local meat and cheese; popcorn, candles, (& a movie); soaps, bath salts, & lotions; towels, pasta, (& a strainer); coffee (& a mug); vinegar & oils; or I’ll pay someone’s membership for the first year!”

-Kim Riemenschneider Jackson, winner of the Iowa Food Cooperative Golden Okra award this year. Congratulations Kim!

“Shopping local is so easy to do with all the incredible options in our community. There are so many benefits to shopping local, where do I even begin? You can peruse Valley Junction or make a day out of the East Village. Choose local, Ambassadors!”

-Emily Boyd, Urban Ambassadors Vice President

Think outside the box for your gifts as well. Consider giving children opportunities to learn about and appreciate the outdoors by giving them a Science Center Membership or a membership to the Blank Park Zoo. Or give them a live plant they can care for! You can also give gifts you make yourself or skip gift giving altogether!

Thanks Ash for writing this blog post!