5 Zero Waste Winter Activities to Do This Season

zero waste winter activities

I love living in tune with the seasons, and easily get excited whenever a new one approaches. Summer will always be my favorite season (warm days and delicious fruits abound), but there is a certain charm to winter. The cold has a way of bringing people together, making them reflect on things come to pass. I consider myself a pretty deep person who easily gets lost in her thoughts, so winter really brings out that side of me, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. I also love that cozy feeling I get while  cuddling up with a good book in my toasty home as it snows outside. It makes me feel safe, warm and protected. Winter brings to mind snowy landscapes, barren trees, hardy vegetables, and warm hot cocoa. There’s something about winter that makes you slow down and cherish all you have. It’s also not as barren as most people think: I absolutely love winter produce and will definitely be talking about it later on in the post. So, if you want to get into the winter spirit, reduce your waste and live seasonally, you’re in the right place. Here are 5 zero waste winter activities to do before the season ends!

P.S.: This is a mini series (with each new season, I list zero waste activities you can do – I already did fall, this is winter, so that just leaves spring and summer). Be on the lookout for spring next!


5 Zero Waste Winter Activities 

First off, it’s important to note when winter begins and ends. Lots of people believe that when snow falls, winter starts, but that’s not true at all. A good majority of December is actually still fall: Winter doesn’t start until December 21st (Northern Hemisphere) and June 21 (Southern Hemisphere). For 2018, winter started December 21st and ends on March 20th. Just something to keep in mind as the season progresses.

1. Stock up on root vegetables and hardy greens

zero waste winter activities
My first winter produce haul for 2018.

Many people believe summer is the only time you can get fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. That’s simply not true: Winter has a lot to offer as well!

I have one farmers market in my community that stays open year round, which I’m very fortunate to have. It’s definitely a bit of a drive from my home, but I love supporting local farmers so I don’t mind at all. I bring my compost pail with me every week and stock up on all these delicious foods.

During this time of year, my mom and me love to grab apples, kale and carrots as our consistent staples. They really get us through the winter.

Apples are the only fruit available at the farmers market this time of year, but I don’t mind. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I mean, have you tasted a farmers market apple? *Insert swoon here.*

We also tend to buy bread more in the winter than any other season too. There’s a delicious bread stand that bakes these out-of-this-world cranberry walnut muffins. I get one almost every time I go to the market in the winter. Such a treat!

My mom and I love roasting our vegetables come winter, so we also make sure to stock up on root veggies like carrots, beets, turnips and parsnips.

I highly recommend you check out your own local farmers market and see what’s in season near you.
Take your reusable produce bags and tote bags with you to avoid waste! Here are my zero waste farmers market essentials.

Winter foods to stock up on:

  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Apples
  • Parsnips
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Winter squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Cauilflower 
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Onion

These are just some of the seasonal winter foods you’ll encounter at the farmers market. Of course, this list varies depending on your location, and what your farmers decide to grow. Something can be in season but not sold at your market simply because the farmer doesn’t grow it, so keep that in mind. 

For example, while cranberries are in season during the beginning of winter, they never typically pop up at my market because no one there grows them. 

Also, sometimes the region you’re in really plays a big factor in what grows there. For example, citrus fruits are never available at my farmers market because no one grows them in New York. But in California, citrus fruits are at their peak at the farmers market right now.

Do research into what’s seasonal to your area. You might be surprised at what you find!

2. Get cozy with sweaters, blankets, candles and fire places

zero waste winter activities

Do you get cold easily in the winter, like me? Instead of reaching for the thermostat, consider piling the layers on. It’ll help you save a buck and help the environment at the same time.

When you use the heat in the winter, or the AC in the summer, you’re using energy. Along with reducing waste, it’s important to reduce the amount of nonrenewable resources we consume too (and this includes energy).

I challenge you to keep your hand off that thermostat this winter. Try to cozy up with sweaters, blankets, candles and fire places.

I don’t have a fire place in my little apartment, but lighting a candle is second best. There’s something so soothing about watching a flame dance and putting my hands over it.

If you’re cold, I also recommend changing out of the t-shirt you’re wearing and putting on a sweater. Often times it’s easy to stay warm when you’re wearing thicker materials, more layers, or just longer sleeves.

Blankets are also great for keeping you cozy and warm during the winter months. I love to throw one over me while I’m typing away  in my room, working on blog posts or freelance pieces.

Sometimes the real reason you’re cold is because your window or door isn’t shutting right. Every winter my dad has to cover my air conditioner in my room to keep the cold air out: My air conditioner is installed in the wall, so there are a few areas cold air can leak through. Make sure to double check these areas and seal up any potential drafts.

Another trick? Keep a warm drink beside you at all times. Whether that be a piping hot cup of tea or hot cocoa (see my favorite recipe for hot cocoa below) is up to you.

Whatever you do, try to keep your thermostat as low as you can to help reduce your energy consumption (you’ll like your heating bill too).

3. Drink some hot cocoa

zero waste winter activities

Hot chocolate is one of my favorite drinks, come winter. Well, that and a chai latte with almond milk. Yum.

I love to drink hot cocoa on particularly cold days, reserving it for any time it snows mostly. It just makes it all the more special, so that way I’m not drinking it too much. It also makes me look forward to snow a little bit more.

I have a really yummy, healthy recipe for homemade hot cocoa I think you might enjoy. You can keep things zero waste, healthy and tasty all at once so easily. Plus, it’s vegan, so there’s that.

I find drinking hot chocolate in the winter warms me from the inside out and makes me think of soothing thoughts (cozy blankets, warm fires, comfy sweaters).

Zero waste hot cocoa

This recipe is vegan, yummy and healthy all at once. Oh, and super easy to make. What could be better than that?


  • 2 tablespoons pure cocoa powder (bought in bulk or in an easy to recycle container)
  • 2 (or more) tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup of almond milk (any nut milk – homemade cashew milk works nice too) or water
  • A pinch of cinnamon


  1. Heat up the water or nut milk on the stove. Add the cocoa powder to it until it completely dissolves, stirring until it’s well blended.
  2. Add the cinnamon and maple syrup, stirring it in, and remove from heat. Pour into your favorite mug and drink it up!

Super simple to make and so much better than store bought. What’s your favorite drink come winter?

4. Make some delicious winter dishes

zero waste winter activities

Since you’ll be stocking up on all that delicious winter produce, you might as well make it into something worth eating, right? I love eating warming, heartier meals come winter. Soups, stews, roasted vegetables and filling salads all make the cut.

Cooking using seasonal produce is one of those zero waste winter activities that’s practically mandatory. Using fresh, local and seasonal vegetables and fruits in your meals gives it heaps of flavor and nutrients. After all, when something is grown closer to you, it takes less time to get to you (which is better for flavor and the environment, believe it or not).

Give one of these winter dishes a try. Better yet, make it a bonding experience and prepare one of these dishes with a loved one!

Here are a few winter themed dishes to whip up:

You can get all the ingredients for this at your local farmers market and butcher, plastic free. Just bring some produce bags, tote bags, and glassware with you. 
If heading to the butcher, ask them if it’d be okay they put the meat directly into your glassware.

If you need cheese for a particular recipe, see if your farmers market sells it and ask for them to wrap it in one of your beeswax wraps.
Bread can also be bought plastic free – just look for a stand at your local farmers market, or head to your nearest deli. Ask them to put the bread directly into a cloth bag for you, or into a beeswax wrap.

5. Make some DIY lotion and lip balm for cracked skin

zero waste winter activities

This is probably one of the most important zero waste winter activities on this list!

Come winter, my hands and lips never fail to start drying up and becoming rough. The lack of moisture in the air really gets to my skin and makes it crack (which is pretty painful).

To prevent and treat this, I make sure to drink plenty of water and apply moisturizing lotion and balm to my hands and lips.

I particularly love Soothe Your Skin Salve by Wise Ways Herbals. It works wonders on my hands and keeps them crack free.

I also use body lotion for my legs, because they tend to get very itchy and dry in the winter months as well.

Unfortunately, most lotions and balms come in plastic tubes or containers. I do my best to avoid these, but sometimes they’re gifted to me and I’m not about to waste a gift.

Whenever I can though, I like to make my own lotions and balms. I wrote a whole post on how to make zero waste lip balm (hint: It’s not that hard to do). It’s actually quite fun and satisfying to make your own products.

Below I’ve included a zero waste lotion recipe you might like to try out too. I gifted this to my mom and best friend one year for Christmas and they absolutely loved it!

Zero waste body lotion

Unlike most body lotions, this is more like a body butter: It’s creamy and luxurious. Don’t expect it to dissolve into your skin right away, either. I recommend putting this on right after a shower. You won’t need much, but it’s the ultimate body moisturizer. If you don’t like heavy lotions, this might not be for you.


  • 2 cups sunflower oil (or coconut oil, if you prefer) 
  • ½ cup shea butter 
  • 3 tablespoons of almond oil (or jojoba oil) 
  • 20 drops of essential oil (rose or lavender work well, and feel free to add more)

Note: I recommend checking out your local bulk food store to see if you can source these ingredients package free. If not, at least try to get them in easily recyclable packaging. 


  1. If you decide to use coconut oil instead of sunflower oil, make sure it’s completely melted. If it isn’t, microwave it in a glass bowl for 15-second increments (whisking in between) until it’s completely melted. 
  2. If your oil (sunflower or coconut) is already melted, add shea butter to it and heat it in a glass bowl. Do this in 15-second increments (whisking in between) until both the Shea butter and the sunflower oil are combined. 
  3. Place bowl in the refrigerator and allow to cool until the mixture starts to become opaque around the edges. You can also speed up this process by putting it in the freezer – just make sure to check on it periodically so it doesn’t completely freeze over (and if it does, melt it for a few seconds in the microwave). 
  4. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer. Whip the mixture until it begins to become creamy. 
  5. Drizzle the almond or jojoba oil and essential oil into the sunflower oil/Shea butter mixture and continue to whip until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. It should kind of resemble whipped cream. Now it’s ready to be stored in a pretty glass jar ( I recommend a 4 oz jar).

zero waste winter activities

What are your favorite zero waste winter activities? I’d love to hear about them.

Also, be on the lookout for my next post in this series, all about zero waste spring activities.

Until then, stay tuned… 

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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