Zero Waste Holidays

 The head the Sustainability Department at the Presidio Trust (where I worked for a year and a half) approached me one day and asked for my assistance in doing a lunch time presentation for our organization on waste during the Fall and Winter holidays. I had already been hoping she would let me help with this project, so I immediately got to work. I first did a brainstorm of all the holiday tips I could think of for reducing waste, drawing from a previous volunteer appreciation event I organized on upcycled gifts and personal experience. I then did more research, finding some information about how dramatic the waste problem is over the holidays.

Concurrently, I envisioned and designed a presentation that would be both interactive and would also act as a take away guide for anyone who attended or could not make it to the presentation. When creating a persuasive presentation, I first tell my listeners WHY the subject matter is important, then follow this up with aesthetically pleasing images of how to make practical positive change.

In this presentation, it was also important to me that I included images that represent many different cultures’ Fall and Winter holidays, so that the diverse staff at the Presidio would have ideas for what zero waste holidays could look like in their own lives. The images on the slides, were carefully selected and edited tell the story of a joyful and less wasteful holiday season.

Finally, I used props (including sustainability wrapped ‘gifts,’ foliage for decor, and edible examples of sustainable gift ideas (i.e. rosemary shortbread cookies and lemon verbena cake) to enhance the experience of attending the presentation and make it memorable. About 30 people attended the event, including the Presidio Trust CEO, and many told me that they shared the presentation with colleagues afterwards. I was thrilled to help foster these conversations and start ripple effects for waste reduction practices.

A year, later while the Front Office Coordinator and Resource Development Assistant at Fair Trade USA, I adapted the presentation and gave it to a new audience. One of my colleagues even sent me pictures of his own holiday innovations after the talk.