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Embracing Post-Holiday Lulls: Infusing Sustainability into Your New Year

The jubilant echoes of the holidays are slowly fading, leaving a tranquil yet slightly disoriented ambiance behind. The after-holiday hangover is a common sentiment—a gentle tug between nostalgia for the festivities and a newfound eagerness for the fresh year ahead. As we navigate this transition, it's an opportune moment to infuse our lives with sustainable practices, offering a renewed sense of purpose and contribution.

Reflecting on the Festivities

The aftermath of celebrations often leaves us surrounded by a sea of wrapping paper, excess food, and a lingering sense of indulgence. Embracing this moment allows us to reflect on our consumption patterns and their environmental impact. It's a gateway to reimagining our approach to festivities—transforming traditions to align with sustainable values.

Reuse as a Tradition

For me, the spirit of sustainability extends beyond mere intention—it's about weaving eco-conscious practices into everyday life. One of my favorite sustainable habits involves reusing gift bags and tissue paper throughout the year.

I've dedicated a special bin in my home where I carefully fold and store these items. It's become a communal effort among my friends and family; they know about my reuse habit and often return bags and tissue paper, perpetuating this cycle of sustainability. This practice isn't solely environmentally friendly—it's also a small, mindful way to trim costs and reduce unnecessary waste.

This ethos of reusing has been ingrained in me by my parents. They, too, are sustainability champions and have passed down this invaluable habit. It's more than just a gesture; it's a tradition that resonates with deeper conservation values and responsibility towards our planet.

Moreover, I've adopted the practice of using recyclable or compostable brown paper for wrapping. It's versatile and allows for a touch of personal creativity (think rubber stamps, handprints, the possibilities are endless). But here's where it gets really crafty: I transform the excess paper into practical fire starters.

Getting Crafty

The process is simple yet immensely satisfying. I shred the paper and, using leftover candles, create what I fondly call "flame pucks." I layer shredded paper and melted wax bits in a muffin tin lined with paper. These pucks serve as excellent fire starters during camping trips or cozy evenings by the firepit.

And it doesn't stop there. The fancy ribbons and colorful strings adorning my packages and gifts received? They, too, have a life beyond a single use. I meticulously save and reuse them until they've served their purpose to the fullest.

This dedication to reusing items until their last breath isn't just about sustainability—it's also a testament to finding value in every object and maximizing its utility. When something reaches the end of its reusable life, I ensure it's discarded appropriately, completing the cycle.

Personalizing Sustainability

These personalized gifts and creative approaches to repurposing items further deepen the connection between sustainability and everyday life. They illustrate the transformative power of reusing and repurposing, turning seemingly disposable items into invaluable tools for both sustainability and gifting.

As the post-holiday hangover gently subsides, let's embrace this transitional phase as an opportunity to redefine our relationship with the world around us, especially our oceans and connecting waterways. Infusing sustainability into our daily lives isn't just a resolution; it's a commitment to a healthier planet for future generations. At the Marine Science Institute, inspiring sustainability to protect our marine ecosystems is an integral part of our mission. Let this be the year where sustainable practices intertwine seamlessly with our existence, nurturing a harmonious balance between our lives and our expansive blue planet, ensuring the preservation of its diverse and precious ecosystems.


For those intrigued by the idea of crafting fire starters from "trash paper," here's a simple guide:

  • Gather Materials: Shred excess paper (bills, invoices, or leftover recyclable paper - not the pretty paper) and collect leftover candle wax bits.

  • Preparation: Line a muffin tin with paper liners or, alternatively, repurpose cardboard egg trays and skip the muffin liner altogether. Ensure adult supervision and proper safety measures, like using pot pads and allowing only adults to handle the stove.  For those hesitant about potentially ruining their muffin tins, thrift stores like Goodwill often offer used ones; creating a dedicated kit from separate items can keep everyday kitchenware untouched.

  • Layering: Fill each muffin cup or compartment in the egg tray with shredded paper.

  • Melting Process: 

    • Option 1: With adult supervision, place the too-small-to-light remains of a used candle in a small heat-safe measuring cup or jar set into a larger pot of simmering water (essentially double-boiler style). Allow the heat to melt the wax slowly. Once melted, using tongs, remove any old wicks and discard them. This repurposed wax serves as a valuable resource for creating eco-friendly fire starters. 

    • Option 2: Preheat the oven to a low-temperature setting, around 150-200°F (65-93°C). Gather the pieces of discarded candles and place them in a heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the glass measuring cup with the candle wax on a baking sheet, put it inside the oven, and let it melt slowly at this low heat. Keep a close eye on the process to prevent the wax from overheating or igniting.

  • Cooling: With the wax now free from debris, pour it into the tin or trays and let them cool until the wax solidifies. Ensure the crafting area remains safe for kids.

  • Storage: Storing your homemade fire starters in a dry container is highly recommended for optimal use and longevity. 

Using Your Homemade Fire Starters

Once crafted, these homemade fire starters are perfect for outdoor fire pits or indoor fireplaces. However, it's crucial to note that they should not be used in wood-burning stoves due to varying heating conditions.

Usage Instructions:

  • Place one in the center of a stack of dried-out wood to utilize these fire starters.

  • Light the fire starter; its slow-burning nature should kick start a sustained burn.

  • Ensure proper ventilation for indoor fireplaces and follow all safety guidelines.

By placing these homemade fire starters at the core of your firewood arrangement, they provide a reliable ignition source. Their slow and steady burn ensures a lasting flame, making them ideal for initiating fires with ease. Remember, safety is paramount—always follow appropriate fire safety protocols when lighting indoor or outdoor fires.

This is a great kid craft with adult supervision, ensuring safety measures are in place. It's an excellent way for my son and me to create useful presents while emphasizing the importance of responsible and creative recycling. Additionally, involving him in making these fire pucks instills a sense of pride and responsibility in contributing to sustainable practices. When camping, he actively participates by tossing the fire puck into the firepit, showcasing his involvement in sustainability from creation to use. 

~ For our oceans, Tiff 💙


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