1) Don’t throw away your food scraps: make a potpourri! It’s as simple as boiling your scraps in two cups of simmering water on the stove. The best part is, the fragrances are entirely customizable to whatever mixture of scraps you have on hand–the combinations are endless. Most fruit scraps work extremely well in creating a sweet, fresh aroma–some ideas are apple peels, citrus peels (from oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc), cranberries, and strawberry tops. Other great additions include but are not limited to coffee grounds, cinnamon sticks, ginger slices, leftover tea, coconut, and any type of extract or essential oil–the sky’s the limit.
2) Bake with organic or fair trade ingredients! Some of the most commonly used holiday baking ingredients (chocolate, sugar, and nuts in particular) also unfortunately happen to be some of the most unsustainable food items (both in terms of unethical labor practices and plantations that increase deforestation and decrease biodiversity). Another great option is to source ingredients locally, whether that be through farmer’s markets or artisan shops; as a plus, supporting local businesses helps boost your regional economy.
3) Opt for low or even zero waste! Bring your reusable produce bags as well as shopping bags when purchasing your holiday baking ingredients, which is especially useful when buying in bulk (particularly for items such as flour, nuts, dried fruits, oats, sugar, etc). If not, try to pick compostable or recyclable packaging at the store. Another thing to keep in mind is to plan out exactly what you want to bake and how much of it you want–this will both help keep you organized in the midst of holiday chaos but also prevent you from overbuying ingredients that may otherwise go bad and contribute to food waste.
Written by Carole Wilay (’25)