zero waste all saints' day

Zwoice . Oct 26, 2018

Dandelion with bits of it flying against a sunset background
All Saints’ Day is approaching and with it a time to remember those that are no longer with us as well as remind ourselves of our own finiteness on this planet. Sadly though, in just a few years, we managed to turn this centuries-old tradition to yet another festivity linked to consumerism. Embracing our mission of nicely decorating the graves of our late relatives, we flood the cemeteries with scentless plastic wreaths of all sizes, shapes and colors, battery operated candles, and lanterns made in China by the living dead. The bigger the better! Plastic wreaths last long and need no water and flameless candles need not to be changed. Very practical, as we do not need to go to the cemetery so often anymore.

Just one reflection though. Imagine the tons of waste that will decorate our landfills, as a result. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what this tradition is all about, a simple sincere thought? A true heartfelt thought can bring us closer to those we once loved than a shining lantern. It should not matter if we decorate the gravestone with adornments bigger and brighter than those of the neighbors. What makes a real difference are our memories. And guess what, those create no waste whatsoever.

However, if after all you feel that you would still like to bring something to the cemetery, for your own peace of mind, here are a few ideas of earth-friendly alternatives.

Nothing can top a live plant

What about a small piece of you in the form of a chrysanthemum you have been taking care of all year long in your garden or your balcony to make sure it is at its best this time of the year? Live plants match the All Saints’ Day tradition perfectly. They remind us of our mortality, as they change their form like everything that’s alive and has a natural lifecycle.
Beautiful white chrysanthemum

Fashion your own natural wreath

Autumn is a great time of the year to compose a natural wreath, as pine needles, cones, chestnuts and dried leaves are abundant everywhere. You do not even need to master the technique of bundling them together, as a simple circular arrangement will look just as beautiful. Do not hesitate to give the special final touch by adding a few fresh or dried flowers.

Natural wreath made of green leaved branches and fresh flowers, on a grey background

Turn a mason jar into a glass lantern

This can be as simple as reusing some of your mason jars, making a little opening on its aluminum lid, filling the bottom of it with sand or even beans and placing a wax candle in it. You may also choose to decorate it with a little cord or ribbon from the outside. As a final touch, to remain along the lines of zero waste, lighten them up using the good old matches instead of plastic lighters.

Suspended mason jar glass lanterns with burning wax candles

But most importantly…

Stay for a simple sincere thought or maybe a prayer, and let your mind wander away to bring back the precious memories of your loved ones, because “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Woman with long hair sitting on a hill looking at the sea and mountains

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