Canada is responsible for generating 545,000 tonnes of waste from gift-wrapping and shopping bags each year during the Holidays. Here in B.C, we are responsible for 11 percent of Canada's waste. If that’s not enough, from the scorching heat temperatures during the Summer to the catastrophic floodings by the end of Fall show that we need to start caring for our planet more than ever. From these environmental concerns, we can celebrate the holidays with less waste to help the planet. Here are 10 small things we can do to be less wasteful this season!
1. Low-waste wrapping.
The best option for low-waste gift wrapping is to repurpose lightly-used wrapping paper. If this isn't an option, try to purchase gift wrapping supplies that are recycling friendly such as kraft paper. However, if you need a quick solution to your unwrapped gifts, you can always use newspaper or paper wrap that comes in your packages for a more sustainable option.
2. Trade-in gifts for experiences
Suppose you're looking to give something meaningful (and sustainable) this holiday season - spending quality with loved-one beats any present. Some winter-themed ideas include skating, gondola rides, visiting light festivals, or simply having a candle-lit dinner if you live in Vancouver.
3. Purchase gifts that are good quality & long-lasting
Gift durable products that last longer and save money in the long run. Cheaper and low-quality items wear out quickly and create more landfill waste. Gifts made to last include creating playlists either on your favourite music streaming app or purchasing a star. Additionally, give something the person wants and will use. There is no point in giving a gift - no matter how eco-friendly it is - that will sit unused. That is just a waste of the resources used to make that present.
4. Purchase gifts and decorations locally & from sustainable brands
Shopping small and local is incredibly important to not only your community but to the environment. Local holiday shopping helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving our carbon footprint.
5. DIY & second-hand
Gifting and decorations doesn't have to be wasteful and expensive. There are always DIY options from scrapbooking, knitting, beading, painting, clay-making, and cooking. Also, you can create fantastic décor pieces by incorporating pinecones and pine leaves from your backyard, reusing old gift-wrapping into a garland, and creating cut-out Christmas trees with cardboard. However, we tend to overlook second-hand gift options. Why not gift something that's one-of-a-kind, such as passing on your favourite book or purchasing your Christmas decorations antique either from the thrift or antique store. Buying second-hand saves a little bit of coin and cuts down waste!
6. Purchase reusable decorations
If you need to buy new decorations, buy reusable ones that last for years to keep unnecessary waste out of the landfill. If you want to buy Christmas decorations, choose ones made from eco-friendly materials like glass, wood, metal, fabric, or clay. Avoid decor with excess plastic and glitter as these materials are most likely unsustainable.
7. Recycle materials
Make sure that your old, broken Christmas lights or unwanted electronics get recycled. Find a facility that accepts them on MetroVancouver Recycles. Also, when the holidays are over, make sure to dispose of your Christmas trees properly.
8. Digital e-cards & cards
Recycle paper cards and send electronic holiday cards and e-gift cards to reduce paper waste.
9. Reduce holiday food waste
The best way to ensure that (untouched) food doesn't go to waste is by visiting your local food shelter to get rid any extra canned goods and dried foods you didn't use up during the holidays.
10. Save energy!
If you haven't already, switch to LED Christmas lights because they last seven times longer and use one-tenth of the energy. Also, turn off or unplug your Christmas lights during the day to conserve the lights' energy.
Like everything zero waste, a zero-waste Holiday is not about being perfect, but doing what you can and being conscious about your consumption can be impactful. Just start being more mindful of your choices over the Holidays and spend your Winter break doing what you love with the people you love. We hope you have a joyous, carefree and conscious Holiday!