A very zero waste Christmas

I know what you’re thinking: “Trisha, it’s not Christmas!”

True. But for the Walker Four, Christmas does indeed come in August.

See, when we came out as minimalists, my parents (who are the most supportive people ever) came to us wondering what that would mean during the holidays. My mother was like, how about a trip? and we were all, minimalism is AWESOME.

Central Oregon is different than the Gorge -- much drier, much higher in elevation.

Central Oregon is different than the Gorge — much drier, much higher in elevation.

So that’s what we’ve been doing for the last four years. It started with a two day adventure, and now we’ve somehow managed to up it to four — by renting a house in Sunriver, which has minimal stay requirements in the busy summer months. The thing about Sunriver is that you basically go to relax — it’s perfectly acceptable to sit on the porch and just read a book.

All day.

It’s amazing.

Another benefit is, since you’re in a house, you have access to a fully stocked kitchen, which means you’ve got control over the waste you generate. I did get packaged granola bars for Johanna (she needs constant fuel because she’s constantly growing), tortillas as requested by my mother for taco night, and we brought cereal (Abby’s bye item), but everything else?

Zero waste! Yaaaaaaay!

I hit the bulk aisle for trail mix stuff, getting some honey roasted nuts for the girls (they love those things) and then added dried fruit (cranberries, plums, apricots, bananas). At home, I dumped everything into one cloth bag and secured it with a clip.

I also went to my favorite bakery for a loaf of bread, bringing one of my new bread bags. They had a shelf of day-old bread … 15 percent off … in a plastic bag. I was all, hey, what would happen if I gave you this bread to slice and asked you to put it in this cloth bag? Would you be able to reuse the plastic one?

Eight capsule pieces, my toiletries and PJs, and all those tech cords.

Eight capsule pieces, my toiletries and PJs, and all those tech cords.

Two kids behind the counter chimed in at the same time — they can’t reuse them for customers, but they have a stash for employees to use.

Good enough. I got my day-old bread put in my new sack (fit like a champ) and I watched them add my unwanted plastic bag castoff to their stash. Yes, it would be better to get a loaf off the fresh rack and forego the plastic all together … but as they have all manner of discounted bread just waiting to be consumed, I like knowing there’s an option for bringing it home that fits into the confines of my project. (Justification!)

We also brought fresh fruit and veggies in (Eric’s plastic lunch) containers and local apples in a produce bag, a stash of coffee in a glass container I inherited from my favorite mother-in-law (hi, Joni!), and bulk peanut butter and homemade jam. My mom and Johanna made a ton of cookies before we left, packaged in containers, and Mom also made a lasagna, which she brought in a glass baking dish. (Mom! You did so good!)

Not everything they brought was zero waste (well, neither was ours), but I appreciated deeply that they tried. I mean, if we all just tried, think of what we could do!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

And then all there was left to do was enjoy our stay: The tennis courts, paved bike paths, aquatic center, the porch. Eric borrowed a couple of tennis rackets to add to the two we already own (we are far from pro, but it’s fun anyway), the place we stay at has a garage filled with (obviously very used) bikes, Johanna and Eric enjoyed the pool, and I read an entire book (!). There were lots of walks (and deer spotted!), time to chat, and some very intense games of Apples to Apples. We also took a day trip to Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park. I’ve been there a zillion times, but it’s always fun — and beautiful.

P.S. I brought a minimalist wardrobe on the trip, as well as all of my usual toiletry supplies and the tech chargers we can’t seem to get away from. I usually pack a 3×3 capsule for trips — nine items in the bag and then whatever I’m wearing there — but this time I could only come up with eight (I did try for a ninth, but then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to). Since I was wearing three, that gave me a total of 11 items: My sandals, two cardigans, three tank tops, two pairs of capris, one skirt, one dress, one t-shirt. I wore everything at least once, and yes, I rode bikes, walked and played tennis in my sandals. It’s not like I’d perform any better in different shoes. 😉

So that’s how we celebrated Christmas in August. We LOVE this tradition so much that we’re thinking of extending it a little longer next year. My mom was wondering if maybe the girls felt ripped off because they have to wait every year to get their “gift,” but they assured her they do NOT. And, look, they won’t remember the items they’ve received in even 5 years … but they will always remember these trips with their grandparents.

P.P.S. The Walker side of the family does something similar — I think 2017 will be the 20th anniversary — only we pack 26 people into one beach house over the Martin Luther King, Jr., three day weekend (I mean, four of those are babies or toddlers, so …) But that’s a post for January.

And a big, big thank you to Kerry and Tracy for updating us on their projects while I was gone! As a longtime reader of The Simple Year, I miss their posts, too, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning what they’ve been up to.

Next up: School starts Aug. 30, so I guess it’s time to figure out supplies. (Siiiiiiiigh.)