The holiday season is upon us! And with it comes the delightfully challenging task of finding just the right gift for everyone on our list. Last year, our intrepid plastic-free shopper, Philothea Bezin, shared her tips for low-waste holiday shopping and the wide variety of plastic-free gift items available right here in Viroqua.
It may surprise you to learn that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Americans throw away 25% more trash than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or 1 million extra tons each week.
But there is no need to let that turn you into a Scrooge! Read on to revisit Philothea’s helpful suggestions and new discoveries.
I’ve been looking for ways to avoid plastics during my holiday shopping. Here are some of my suggestions:
Bring your own reusable shopping bags, and remember to ask for non-plastic bags or packaging at stores.
Try to buy items that are unwrapped or free of plastic packaging. Buying at thrift stores is a way to avoid packaging.
Buy in bulk and transfer to plastic-free containers. This could be liquid soap, shampoo, dry laundry detergent, unpackaged bar soap, candles, fruits, flour, sugar, beans, grains, nuts, coffee, herbs, loose tea, bird seed and candies.
Give plastic-free gifts and wrap them in brown paper bags, newsprint, pretty cloth or reclaimed Christmas wrapping paper with fabric ribbon.
Read the labels. Look for 100% natural fiber (cotton, wool, bamboo, linen, silk) clothing and accessories: socks, slippers, scarves, T-shirts, pajamas, underwear or mittens. Avoid polyester, spandex, Gore-Tex, acrylic and polar fleece. They are all made from plastic or petroleum.
When eating out, bring your own reusable carry-out container or choose cardboard, and refuse Styrofoam or plastic containers.
I did a shopping spree on Main Street in Viroqua and was pleased to see so many shops offering plastic-free options. Below is an indication of what you can find.
Restaurants like Magpie Gelato, Pacifico, Maybe Lately’s, Fortney Hotel, Noble Rind Cheese Company, Tangled Hickory Wine Bar, Driftless Café and Wonderstate Coffee all serve on ceramic dishes and tableware. Most send carry-outs in cardboard or accept your own dish for carry-outs.
Viroqua Food Co-op has added many new non-plastic options including cosmetics, dental and soap products, straws and lunchboxes, cooking utensils, towels, puzzles, games, candles, mittens and socks.
Resale and antique stores like Main Street Station, Bon Ton Millinery, Second Time Around and Vinhost, and boutique stores like Aveda Hair Salon, Magpie Gelato, Unglaciated at Viroqua Variety, Spellbound, Gary’s Rock Shop, Parrish Music, Metaphysical Graffiti and Bad Axe Music offer one of a kind unpackaged gifts.
Local artist craft and gift stores like Viva Art Gallery, Artisan Alley pop-up, Kathie Wheeler art studio, and Ewetopia Fiber Shop (which is also hosting a display of Paper Scissors Stone school and art supplies and Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School toys) offer beautiful, natural art and craft materials and locally hand-made items in paper wrapping.
Florists like Viroqua Floral Mercantile, Thoreau’s Garden and Greenhouse and Second Nature Nursery sell fresh plants in plastic-free packaging.
Grocery and food stores like Quillin’s, Viroqua Food Co-op, Noble Rind Cheese Company, and Wal-Mart offer bulk foods, unwrapped produce, flowers, gifts and some deli items wrapped in paper or cardboard. Avoid the plastic carry-outs and plastic clamshells.
Nelson Agri-Center offers work gloves, garden tools, clothing, kitchen equipment, bulk unpackaged birdseed and animal feed. Dollar Tree sells many styles of glass jars and bottles.
Many Viroqua stores carry reusable bags including our own Viroqua Plastic Free Choose to Reuse cloth shopping bags.
This list is not complete, but gives you an idea of how and where to find alternatives to plastic both in Viroqua and elsewhere. Readers are invited to share their discoveries on this blog.
Happy Holidays! Philothea
For more suggestions about how to keep your holidays plastic free,
follow the Viroqua Plastic Free Facebook Community Group during December.