Reducing wasteful gift-giving: Philly businesses, shoppers find ways to reuse items this holiday season

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Shoppers braved the cold this week in search of last-minute gifts at Philadelphia’s outdoor Christmas Village. As customers warmed up with hot chocolate, they browsed hats, scarves, jewelry, and ornaments across dozens of booths.

Near the food court and beer garden, customers scanned the wooden shelves at Vellum Street Soap Company. Shoppers found candles in salsa jars, bath salts in kombucha bottles, and skin lotion in pickle jars.

The Vellum Street Soap Company with the sustainable skin products she makes and jars in recycled bottles at the booth she shares with the Philadelphia Bee Company at Christmas Village in Love Park. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The season of celebration and tradition can be marked by overconsumption and waste. So the bath product vendor is trying to reduce its environmental impacts.

Owner Melissa Torre makes her products with tallow, or beef fat, sourced from small local farms to avoid the environmental impacts of shipping. And the glass containers are repurposed to reduce the amount of trash that enters landfills, or elsewhere.

Melissa Lynn Torre, founder of the Vellum Street Soap Company, with recycled glass jars and bottles she uses to package the skin products she creates and sells. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“[Glass] gets shipped to a lot of places out of our country. A lot of it ends up in the ocean,” Torre said. “So everything you throw away, it’s not gone. When you throw it away, it still exists somewhere in some form.”

  • December 21, 2023
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