An article from The Globe and Mail says that Canadians toss about 50 kilograms of garbage each over the holidays – 25 percent more than the rest of the year – thanks to the purchase of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six million rolls of tape. 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper and gift bags are thrown out each year.
Before you go out and buy new decorations, wrapping paper, tape, foil, and Christmas cards (the list goes on…) see what you have at home first. Then based on what you have at home, see what you can DIY or reuse! Many of us have a “more is better” mentality, but when it comes to the wellbeing of the Earth, “more” can be overwhelming and harsh on the planet during the holidays. Try to think in a “less” mentality this Christmas… unless you’re talking about holiday cheer and yummy treats! There are many ways to waste less and care for the planet this holiday season… keep reading to learn more!
This Christmas, before you decide you want something new, see if there is anything you can donate to charity or a church, like old toys or clothes. See if you have any canned food items that you can donate to a food bank too. Being kind, giving to the less fortunate, and getting rid of (but not throwing away) the old and bringing in the new is what the holidays and new year is all about!
Rethink your wrapping paper – if you still have wrapping paper on the roll from last year – use that first. You don’t need to buy new just because it’s a new year. If you receive gifts with classic Christmas or holiday wrap, make sure you know what items go in what bin on the curb. Ribbons and bows, foil or plastic wrapping paper, foil, cellophane and plastic gift bags, and plastic, foil or glitter greeting cards go in the GARBAGE. Plain wrapping paper, plain paper gift bags, and plain paper greeting cards can go in the RECYCLING. It’s easy to reuse gift bags and tissue paper for future occasions, and check out our previous blog on how to reuse Holiday cards! There are also many eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper that you can recycle, such as kraft paper, newspaper, even old magazines. You can decorate the kraft paper with paint or stamps, make bows out of newspaper or old fabrics, or put the gift in a reusable bag – a two in one gift. If you need a cozy place for a fragile gift, try wrapping in newspaper, or ripping up newspaper instead. Avoid bubble wrap, packing peanuts, Styrofoam, and plastic air packs. You can also try something other than tape – like ribbon or twine to keep the wrap together, as wrapping paper can’t be recycled with tape on it! There are also 100% recyclable choices, like the wrapping paper at Wrappily.
For actual gifts, look for toys made out of wood or fabric instead of plastic. Books and board games are also good alternatives to a plastic toy. Other great gifts to give are experiences like a trip to the movie theatre or a pottery class. You can bake or make your gift recipients a special homemade treat, make a donation in their name, or get them a gift that gives back. Stay tuned for our next blog post on Gifts That Give Back to the environment.
If you’re shopping online – look on Etsy first. They offset all of their carbon emissions from shipping to be carbon neutral. This means that they help the environment by protecting forests that improve air quality and absorb carbon, by sponsoring wind and solar farms that generate clean energy and replace fossil fuels, and by developing greener methods for producing auto parts so that they offset their shipping emissions.
If you’re making the switch to a reduced plastic lifestyle, or want to gift someone in the direction of being more eco-friendly, check out these websites, some of which have zero waste packaging for shipping too! And remember, these gifts are great for any occasion, but are also great when you feel like treating yourself!
The classic stocking stuffers of toiletries and chocolate can easily be done in a more eco-friendly way. Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bottles can be replaced with bars (Lush has many options). Skip the plastic hair ties and go with fabric or elastic. Bamboo or wooden hairbrushes and toothbrushes are ideal over plastic ones, as they can biodegrade when you’re done with them. Metal razors are becoming popular again, ones that you can keep for the rest of your life and you don’t have to worry about disposing of the plastic covered blades every month or so.
Instead of buying chocolate with excess wrapping, head over to Bulk Barn using their Reusable Container Program to fill up on goodies for stocking stuffers.
When hosting a Christmas or Holiday party, try to avoid plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, and drink stirrers. Instead you can use paper plates, or your regular plates and cutlery. Try a spring of rosemary or mint for drink stirrers, and invest in some paper or reusable straws – or skip it all together.
Try and avoid plastic packaging when buying Christmas goodies. Instead of a tray of cookies, try making your own with your family or friends. If there’s no time, opt for a local bakery as they usually package in cardboard or paper bags. Another fun idea is to have all your guests bring one homemade item or baked good. For other foods like cheeses and meat, try the local deli where they can wrap your item in paper, rather than the plastic wrapping from the shelf.
Other Christmas-y Things:
Advent calendars – try for a reusable advent calendar instead of the plastic ones from the store – this way you can fill it up with anything you want! There are many awesome DIYs online, you can also make it more personal when it’s not just chocolate! If you still love chocolate advent calendars, Bulk Barn’s Reusable Container Program is a great choice once again!
Christmas cards – Christmas cards just get thrown away every year anyway, why not send an eco-friendly one? You can opt for the online “e-card” or you can look at alternative options such as cards made from recycled paper or even plantable greeting cards.
Christmas Shopping – inevitably there will be some sort of shopping done around Christmas time, so remember your reusable bags!! Whether you’re shopping for food or gifts, try to bring your own bags!! Also, ask for email receipts for things you buy, as most receipts end up in the garbage anyway.
Here at Blom Contracting, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season, as well as a Happy New Year. Thank you for keeping it green!