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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey


Keeping Holiday Parties Green

Keeping Holiday Parties Green

Evgeny Karandaev/

Although the holidays are a season of joy, an estimated 2.9 billion pounds of extra trash is generated each year from items such as wrapping paper, food waste, packaging, returns and decorations. Let’s make this holiday season a time to remember that sustainability and fun can go hand in hand.

Send digital invitations. Save paper and reduce waste by embracing the digital era and sending electronic invitations. Online platforms offer stylish and customizable options for spreading holiday cheer while minimizing the environmental impact.

Choose sustainable decorations. Instead of buying disposable party decorations, opt for reusable and eco-friendly alternatives. Consider using natural elements, such as pine cones, branches and leaves, to create a rustic and festive atmosphere. Repurpose items from around the home, like mason jars or old wine bottles, and turn them into beautiful candle holders or festive centerpieces.

Wrap differently. Landfills add 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper every year. Consider reusing old gift wrap or upcycling newspaper, maps or magazine pages. For a longer lasting option, invest in cloth wrappings. Remember to throw wrapping paper in the recycling bin as long as it doesn’t contain metallic, glitter or velvet elements.

Choose local and seasonal ingredients. By opting for locally sourced, organic produce, we support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation. Additionally, selecting ingredients that are in season ensures freshness and flavor.

Embrace sustainable tableware. Ditch the disposable plastic plates and cutlery and choose biodegradable or compostable alternatives. If there isn’t enough regular tableware for each guest, mix and match or borrow some from a neighbor. 

Conserve energy. Turn down the thermostat a few degrees to save energy. If it’s chilly outside, encourage guests to bring their own sweaters or blankets. Make use of natural light during the day and switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs when the sun goes down.

Prepare a zero-waste menu. Plan the holiday menu carefully to avoid over-purchasing or overcooking. Ask guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers, which can be transformed into delicious new dishes or donated to food banks to help those in need. 

Compost. Instead of throwing food scraps into the trash, composting reduces landfill waste and creates nutrient-rich soil. Be sure to provide clearly marked recycling and compost bins to make it easy for guests to dispose of their waste properly.

Give sustainable party favors. Instead of traditional party favors that often go unused or end up in the trash, consider giving guests eco-friendly gifts. Reusable BPA-free water bottles, organic seeds or handmade products from local artisans will spread guilt-free cheer. Not only are these gifts more meaningful, they also serve as a reminder of the importance of sustainability.

Tick Talk

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warm winds, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed and we are just starting with the yard work that comes with the warmer weather.  Sadly, another season has started ramping up.  Tick season.

•             The best form of protection is prevention. Educating oneself about tick activity and how our behaviors overlap with tick habitats is the first step.

•             According to the NJ DOH, in 2022 Hunterdon County led the state with a Lyme disease incidence rate of 426 cases per 100,000 people. The fact is ticks spend approximately 90% of their lives not on a host but aggressively searching for one, molting to their next stage or over-wintering. This is why a tick remediation program should be implemented on school grounds where NJ DOH deems high risk for tick exposure and subsequent attachment to human hosts.

•             Governor Murphy has signed a bill that mandates tick education in NJ public schools. See this for the details.  Tick education must now be incorporated into K-12 school curriculum. See link:

•             May is a great month to remind the public that tick activity is in full swing. In New Jersey, there are many tickborne diseases that affect residents, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan, and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

•             For years, the focus has mainly been about protecting ourselves from Lyme disease. But other tick-borne diseases are on the rise in Central Jersey. An increase of incidence of Babesia and Anaplasma are sidelining people too. These two pathogens are scary because they effect our blood cells. Babesia affects the red blood cells and Anaplasma effects the white blood cells.

•             Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen. When you contract Lyme it is possible to contract more than just that one disease. This is called a co-infection. It is super important to pay attention to your symptoms. See link.

A good resource from the State:


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