For whatever reason, maybe it was the early snow we got here in Ontario, it’s felt like the holiday season arrived in early November. The holidays are supposed to be a time about connecting with family and friends, reflection, and charity. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see my recycling bin overflowing, filled with wrapping paper and flattened down boxes, it gets me thinking about the environmental impact the holiday season brings, and all of that consumption isn’t very charitable to Mother Earth. This year we are making a conscious effort to make our festivities a little easier on the planet. Here are 10 ways to reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season.
1. Skip Traditional Wrapping Paper
Sure wrapping paper is pretty, but it’s literally made to be torn open and destroyed. Instead consider reusing old newspapers (comics are great for creating colourful wraps), the excess of artwork your kids produced at school, old maps, old calendar pages, gifting items in cute reusable totes, gift baskets (you can often purchase these at a thrift store), or even wallpaper scraps if you have them can be used as gift wrap alternatives.
2. Buy Used Items
Nearly new items are cost effective and a lovely way to show someone you care. Browse a used bookstore, pick up some vintage records, scarves, brooches, or get some nearly new clothes for your favourite niece from that cute second-hand clothing store.
3. Check Your Shipping Preferences
Yes, same day or next day delivery is nice, but not always necessary. Many online providers offer the option of sending shipments in the fewest possible packages. This way there is less packaging, person-power, or gas used to deliver your gifts.
4. Consider Your Cards
I love holiday cards as much as the next person. There is nothing better than getting real genuine mail or sharing a favourite photo with family and friends. If you don’t want to swap real cards for electronic messages, look for companies that offer printing on recycled card stock and/or use vegetable ink. Reuse cards you receive by trimming the fronts into gift tags instead of buying new gift tags.
5. Plan Your Meals Properly & Throw Away Less Food
Wasting food sucks. Plan out your holiday eating in advance and only buy what you’ll need. Not sure what to do with those leftovers? Get some storage containers so you can easily freeze items to enjoy in a few weeks when your social calendar has died down a bit.
6. Shop In Your Community
Anywhere you can shop where you can walk to, take public transit, or hop on your bike instead of into your car. Bonus you’re literally supporting your local community.
7. Gift Experiences, Not Things
Make memories that will last forever by gifting a dinner out, concert, theatre, or sporting event tickets to make sure you’re gifting something that will get used. A gift certificate to a store they love will allow your recipient to buy themselves something they love and will use.
8. Make It Yourself
A gift from the heart can mean a lot, whether you frame that favourite photo you posted on Instagram, make some homemade soap, knit some mittens, bake some cookies, or even offer your burnt-out new parent friends an evening of free babysitting.
9. Don’t Forget Your Bags
When you’re buying items as gifts remember to bring your own reusable cloth bags to use instead of the ones offered at the store. Ask store clerks not to wrap items in tissue unless they are breakable. When purchasing new items consider gifting things that will help others go green like reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, or totes.
10. Carpool To Events
Apparently, the average long-distance Christmas/New Year’s trip is over 400 kms. Car pooling can be a great way to catch up with relatives along the way, save some money, and is better for the environment. Even if all your travel is close to home, consider car pooling, taking transit at least one way, or walking to nearby events.