We’ve already given you some ideas on how to spruce up your holiday gift giving to make it a little more environmentally conscious in this blog post. But have you considered incorporating some sustainability into this entire holiday season? If it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve compiled some ideas below that will help you reduce your environmental footprint at this festive time of the year.
Celebrate Christmas and love Christmas trees? Consider renting instead of buying!
Every January seven million real trees will be dumped in landfills rather than recycled. On top of that, a study found that for your fake tree to be ‘greener’, you’d have to use it for 20 years! To avoid contributing to this waste consider renting real trees from farms in your area. You’ll get the opportunity to decorate the tree during the festive months, and the company will come back to pick it up and replant it in January. Check out some Christmas décor companies in your area that might have this service – for example, this one for Ottawa residents!
If you do choose to go down the real tree route, make sure it’s been grown locally. Once you’re done with it, visit recyclenow to find drop-off points where your tree will be turned into chippings for local parks and wooded areas.
Choose sustainable wrapping paper.
According to garbage clearance specialist AnyJunk.com, we’ve been doing a good job when it comes to reusing old wrapping paper – more than half of us do it. But some rolls of wrapping paper contain non-recyclable elements like foil, plastic, or glitter. To know if you can recycle your wrapping paper, do the scrunch test! Scrunch the paper and let it go. If it says scrunched, it can be recycled; if it unfolds by itself, it’s likely to contain non-recyclable elements. Instead, try going for recycled wrapping paper, brown paper or even tissue wrapped with some twine. Newspapers with red ribbons always look great (with added entertainment if you choose the section with Sunday cartoons). Old maps also make dashing wrapping paper – and it’s a great way to reuse those National Geographic magazines.
You could even opt out of using wrapping paper entirely and, if the present lends itself to it, give your gifts in tins, cans, or jars. Fabric scraps, pillow cases, and even scarves (great for kitchen themed gifts, which can be wrapped up in some new dish towels) make great sustainable wrapping paper alternatives, too.
In charge of the big holiday dinner? Be mindful of where you’re buying your food from.
If you’re responsible for this year’s holiday dinner, this is a great opportunity to support ethical, small-scale producers. For turkeys and other cuts of meat, search for local and organic brands. When getting ready for the big event, make sure to eat up food in the freezer so you’ll have room for dinner leftovers. You can slice up any extra turkey and ham, wrap it up, and freeze it.
When it comes to food waste, try to reduce how much you make this year. Try buying less from the get-go – this can be difficult, but apps like Olio can help you redirect extra food to people who might need it. The app connects you to people in need in your area. You list what items are available, take a photo, and share with other users.
Rethink your lights and decorations!
Don’t get us wrong – we understand that decorating your tree and home is one of the best parts of the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it in a more sustainable way!
If every household swapped Incandescent lights to their LED equivalents, almost 30 000 tonnes of CO2 would be saved. LED lights use up to 80% less lights than traditional incandescent lights. When it comes to lighting outside, switch to solar power with a timer! This will reduce your energy bills and help save the environment.
Some families have a curated set of family decorations, passed down from generation to generation and that emerge year after year. If you’re looking for some new ones, check out sustainable brands like Nkuku for designs that are made from brass, glass and wood. You could even DIY-it, by making your own wreaths with paper and twine, using biscuits threaded on a ribbon, or red berries from your local park.