Did you know that during the holiday season, the average Canadian family sends up to 45% more waste to the landfill?
Though most everything around the holidays comes from a thoughtful place, there is an unfortunate by-product that we need to consider while indulging in our traditions: waste. Before I start stressing you out, relax. Enjoying a ‘greener’ holiday season doesn’t necessarily mean drinking vegetable broth in an undecorated room gifting each other high-fives. It will still be magical, and reducing your waste during the holidays will actually make things EASIER for you in many ways. Less expense, less time, and less clean-up. It’s mainly about planning ahead, as much of the waste during the holiday season is a result of convenience.
All the merriness is there. You’re just focusing more energy on the REAL magic of the holidays: spending time with friends and family, reflecting on the past and future, and spreading holiday cheer. Here we come, No-Waste-Holiday-2016!
The issue: It’s common knowledge that holidays mean food, and lots of it. But there is something wrong when you’re sliding half of the meal that you slaved over all day into the trash can.
How to fix it: Something that we would do well to get out of our heads is this: You don’t need to prepare way more food than needed in order to be a good host. Be realistic about how much food your guests will eat, make practical use of your leftovers, and if you don’t already compost, get yourself setup with a green bin this December. Ignite your competitive fire. Can you host a holiday party with literally no food waste? Challenge accepted.
Wrapping Paper and Packaging
The issue: Although wrapping paper has become so commonplace in our holiday traditions, and gifts might feel naked or incomplete without it, the glittery excitement of a well-wrapped gift comes at a price. Metallic wrapping paper, as well as most types of tape are all not recyclable. Gifts are thoughtful, and you would never want to make someone feel bad about putting care into wrapping something nicely for you. BUT gift wrapping has reached an unbelievable status quo, and the truth is, it can be time-consuming, an extra expense, and simply unnecessary.
How to avoid receiving a ton of wrapping paper: Why not send a friendly reply to the host of your gift-exchange organizer suggesting the group go ‘paper-and-packaging-less’ this year? Suggest that gifts come wrapped in reusable totes, newspaper, in nothing at all, or anything else creative. Die hard holiday stationery lovers may protest, but that’s tough. Ain’t nothing wrong with sharing your preferences!
How to avoid buying a ton of wrapping paper: This is really easy, just don’t! The magic of ‘unveiling’ gifts, especially for little kids, can be retained by wrapping presents in blankets, and hiding gifts around the house to be found by answering a riddle. Alternatively, gifting ‘experiences’, like drum lessons or a day of skiing in place of gifts that are wrapped with tons of packaging, is a great way to give without all the extra waste. This sets a great example for your kids that ‘waste is something that our family cares about’. If you take some time to explain why your family is doing things a little differently from their friends, it could be something that they make a concerted effort to consider as well. Think ‘paper-and packaging-less’ birthday parties.. Hooray!
The issue: The unfortunate thing about many holiday traditions (especially holiday lights), is that they became popularized at a time when we weren’t aware that using energy used up precious natural resources that we would be scrambling to protect in the future. But even now, in the face of this, when December rolls around, you better put up holiday lights or else you’re a Scrooge!
How to fix it: Opting to not do holiday lights does not make you a scrooge. In fact, it will save you time, money, and frustration as there always seems to be enough bulbs that have burnt out to make it look silly. If you absolutely need to keep your holiday spirit alive with your lights, buy strands with LED lighting as they are more energy-efficient, and turn them off during the day. Otherwise, gather pine boughs to drape over mantles, pull out candles, or invest in handmade Christmas decorations from a local holiday market–it’s that time of year!
The problem: When we leave all of our holiday shopping to the last minute, we panic and head to the department store to get everyone a onesie and a box of chocolates–if you haven’t been there, you’re lying. But the holidays are a stellar time to support your local artisans and gift your loved ones some handmade goods.
How to fix it: Come December, local holiday markets start popping up everywhere. A quick Internet search will tell you where and when, and these markets are one hundred times more enjoyable to be browsing through than the fluorescent lighting of the mall. A handmade, local gift is often better quality, made using more sustainable methods, and has that one-of-a-kind aspect you can’t find anywhere else. Additionally, you know that we prioritize local here at SPUD, check out our amazing selection of gifts from local vendors–and you can get everything delivered right to your door.
Other quick tips:
- Take reusable shopping bags with you when gift shopping
- Recycle your christmas tree
- Opt for reusable batteries for electronics
- Send e-cards and online gift certificates
This year is going to be No-Waste-Holiday-2016, and you have got this in the bag. There’s still a ton of time to prep, organize, and knock the pants off of a great holiday season–without any waste to boot. Have a great holiday everyone!