Sustainable Christmas

There is a dark underbelly when it comes to the Christmas season. People always focus on how much they love the gift-giving, Boxing day shopping, lots of food, decorations, gift wrapping paper, but there is so much waste that comes with it all (as well as a lot of money spent).

Think of the gifts you’ve received in the past that you didn’t want or need, and then ended up donating or tossing it afterwards. Or kept it in the closet for years afterwards, collecting dust.

And then there’s the food, most of which gets saved as leftovers, but often to get lost in the back of the fridge to be thrown out after.

This time of year we should instead be focusing on family, supporting small businesses and charity work.

Here are some tips for the holiday season to help you create less waste:

  1. Gift Giving – instead of getting the latest gadget, expensive clothing or plastic trinket for that someone on your list, try to personalize it more. Is there a cause that they are really passionate about? Consider donating to a cause they would appreciate, getting a locally handmade item, or a gift card to somewhere they you know they love.
  2. Supporting Small Local Businesses – by getting something local, you are helping out your local economy. Small business owners are much more open to suggestions/custom orders, they usually support other small local businesses and local charities, and the carbon footprint is smaller because the products don’t need to be shipped from elsewhere. Check out local markets to see what type of products (or services) are in your area! There are often Etsy markets and trade shows going on this time of year.
  3. Gifting Yourself – do you have a talent that other people might appreciate? Give them the gift of your time/services if it can be useful to them. Or give them something created by you! Like a painting, a song, a knitted item, an ornament etc. Whatever you can make yourself is always an awesome idea because they know where it came from, and it is something that you put your heart and soul into crafting.
  4. Green Gift Wrapping – rather than using disposable gift wrapping paper, use gift bags – these can be reused year after year, with or without tissue paper so it doesn’t create the same amount of waste. Another great option is to wrap with newspaper, reusing it after it’s been read. There is also the option of wrapping with brown paper and twine (which can look really cute!), or with fabric and ribbon etc. Avoiding gift wrapping paper is the best thing you can do, as it is usually too glossy that it can’t be recycled, and we don’t need to add to our landfills!
  5. Volunteering with Charities – this is obviously something that can be done all year round, but there is more of a focus on it this time of year. It doesn’t necessarily create less waste, but is rather a way that you can assist people that you don’t even know. Great ones to support are the Food Bank, gift wrapping for the Salvation Army, Operation Christmas Child, Animal Sanctuaries etc., but find the one that speaks to you!

These are just a few things you can do this year to lessen your impact on the earth, as well as your wallet! What are some of the ways that you are trying to be more sustainable this holiday season?