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The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year; Christmas trees, Thanksgiving feasts, good will toward men and holiday movies never cease to warm up the coldest season. However, no matter how wonderful it is, it's also a very wasteful time of year. Tinsel, paper snowflakes, single-use wrapping paper, excess food, Amazon boxes and cranking up the heat have an impact on the planet.

Having a waste-free holiday doesn't need to make it any less festive, fun or traditional. Here are a few ways to give Mother Earth a break this year.

Thrift shopping

Thrift shopping sometimes gets a bad rep despite being one of the most eco-friendly ways to buy your goods. There are even different kinds of thrift stores, consignments stores and markets to suit your needs. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, only about 16-18% of Americans shop at a thrift store at least once per year.

There are thrift stores by the dozen for every type of need in Austin: visit Goodwill Blue Hanger on 6505 Burleson Road, which sells clothes by the pound for the most bang for your buck; visit Thrift Town on 5700 Manchaca Road for a wide selection, or if uniqueness is what you're after, visit St. Vincent de Paul on 900 W. Braker Lane.

Or, visit Revival Vintage on 100 N Loop Blvd for an upscale thrifted gift—because used ≠ not giftable!

Grocery shopping

There is no truly waste-free way to grocery shop yet in Austin, though a few stores have tried and met an untimely end, but don't let that deter you from shopping sustainably. The easiest way to reduce waste while grocery shopping is to make bulk sections and reusable containers your friend.

H-E-B and Central Market have extensive bulk sections for dry goods including coffee, tea, nuts, spices, trail mix, dried fruit, snacks and more. Wheatsville Co-op offers bulk sections that carry laundry detergent, soap and self-care products. You can even use your reusable containers in these sections.

Some services offer sustainable grocery delivery, like Trashless, which delivers local groceries in reusable containers and will pick them up when they're empty.



Reply to @valeriemwood I’m getting Anthropologie vibes from the finished product!🌿 #homedecor #thriftflip #trashtocash #ShowYourAge

♬ original sound - Annika🌈

Upcycling allows you to take otherwise useless products and make them into something new, without creating new waste. The process can be done with just about anything—clothes, furniture, scraps or even garbage—if you're crafty enough. The City of Austin holds fix-it clinics to teach how to repair basic household objects, which is a must in the home improvement sphere.

If you're not confident in your artistic abilities, there are plenty of Austin artists who sell upcycled gifts

Donate your used items

Marie Kondo-ing your house? Don't throw away the items you don't want anymore—donate them. Even if you don't think someone will want it, if it is still in good condition, it is worth a shot.

The Austin Common offers a Reuse Directory to help combat the $11 million worth of reusable products that Austinites throw out every year. The directory offers guidance on how to buy, rent, repair or get rid of something sustainably, even showing the differences between organizations so you can do so based on your ideals.

Give an experience as a gift this year

When you give an experience as a gift, the possibilities are endless and the waste is much lower. After all, an experience will last forever in your loved one's memory. If your loved one likes to kayak, get them a one year rental pass on Ladybird Lake. Take your daredevil indoor skydiving at iFly, get them an annual pass to their favorite museum, take them on an Austin Biplane tour or even race car driving.

Whatever you do for your holiday season this year, why not try to make it just a little bit greener. Mother Nature will thank you.


On an average summer day, Austinites crowd the waters at Sculpture Falls. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

The city of Austin is warning residents of toxins that are dangerous to both humans and animals in Barton Creek waters at Sculpture Falls.

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(Tito's Handmade Vodka)


  • 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 4 oz sparkling water
Directions: Just add Tito's Handmade Vodka and sparkling water to a glass with ice. Top with a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

(Austin Summer Carnival)

TinyFest Texas 2021
When: 10 a.m. Saturday – 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive
What: Tour tiny houses, van converstions, shipping container homes and more at this year's TinyFest. Grab tickets here for a weekend of speakers, workshops and panel discussions plus live music, food and more!

Fierce Whiskers Grand Opening
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fierce Whiskers, 5333 Fleming Court
What: Fan of whiskey? Come along to the free grand opening of Fierce Whiskers Distillery's new tasting room. Enjoy bites from a food truck, oysters, musical performances and a raffle.

Austin Summer Carnival
When: 6 p.m. Saturday – 2 a.m. Sunday
Where: The Venue ATX, 516 East 6th St.
What: Don your dancing outfit for this carnival that celebrates the African heritage with Brazilian, Latin and Caribbean rhythms in Austin. Snag your tickets here.

Beginner's Succulent Arrangement and Planting
When: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Succulent Native, 5501 North Lamar Blvd.
What: Calling all first-time planters: Get your hands dirty and learn about succulent and cactus arrangement and care. No tools required! Grab your tickets here.