There’s a dearth of holidays between now and Labor Day, so why not take this stretch of time to make up a few of your own that honor the environment? Get out your calendar and pick days to celebrate these made-up holidays, each of which focuses on reducing waste in some way.
You can even invite friends and family members to join the challenge, and reward yourself for a job well done with an eco-friendly treat: perhaps a trip to the garden center to pick out a new plant for the house or yard, or a splurge on some locally grown fruit at the farmers’ market. Here are a few eco-holidays to start with:
Freeze the Fridge Day: Before those perishables and leftovers go bad and need to be thrown away, freeze them until you’re ready to use them. Fresh berries can be frozen solid on a baking sheet, then transferred to a Ziploc® brand freezer bag for storage. If you have onions, celery, carrots, or bell peppers that will go bad before you need them, dice them up and freeze them in a plastic bag or container. They’ll make for a nice shortcut one day when you’re in a rush to prepare dinner. Finally, leftovers from dinners can be frozen in oven- and microwave-safe glass containers, making them ready for a quick lunch or dinner.
Garbage-Free Day: Can you go a whole day without generating any trash? Give it a shot to see how close you can come! Compost food scraps; recycle plastic, paper, and glass; use cloth napkins and reusable cloths instead of paper towels. Learn how one couple has gone years without generating any trash, and imagine if more of us did this. The EPA estimated that each American generated an average of over 4 pounds of solid waste per day in 2012.
Trash into Treasures Day: With the stuff you don’t throw away from your Garbage-Free Day, you can celebrate Trash into Treasures Day by upcycling it into something new. Get your family’s creative juices flowing to create art or functional objects from waste. You can find inspiration online at sites like DIY Inspired or Bobvila.com. Leading up to the day, start saving small scraps you might be able to use such as bottle caps, buttons, popsicle sticks, paper scraps, and more; you can keep them organized in Ziploc® brand bags (rinse out ones you’ve already used to extend their life).
Pick Up the Park Day: Grab some old plastic grocery bags, put on some work gloves, and hit your local park to gather up litter. Be sure to separate out recyclables like empty bottles, cans, and paper; you can add them to your curbside recycling or take them to a recycling facility. Don’t forget to recycle the plastic bags you used to collect garbage, too, along with any other plastic film you found. Clean and dry plastic film (such as packaging, produce bags, and Ziploc® brand bags) can be recycled by dropping them off at one of thousands of retail locations across the U.S. Celebrate by having a picnic in your now-cleaner park when you’re done — just be sure to use reusable plates, utensils, and food containers!
Leftovers-Feast Friday: Save yourself a trip to the store, and make use of the foods in your fridge, freezer, and pantry before they go bad and need to be thrown out. Take a quick inventory of anything that’s nearing its expiration date, then use a website like Supercook, where you can enter what you have on hand to generate recipe ideas based on your ingredients.