Every year, the holiday season transforms our world into a bustling, tinsel-decked wonderland, where malls are packed with Christmas shoppers, and the trees have been decorated and pleasantly packed with this year’s assortment of coveted trinkets and sought-after knickknacks.
With the holiday’s unmistakable flair for food and fashion, it might not come as a surprise that the season also brings with it an excess of 1 million tonnes of garbage per week. In the United States alone, the common household experiences a 25 percent increase in otherwise avoidable waste – with food waste, plastic packaging and gift-wrapping at the top of the list.
Here are a few ways to celebrate a ‘green’ Christmas while reducing our seasonal impact.
Exchange ‘stuff’ for new experiences
The first way to dramatically cut holiday waste is to replace the tradition of gift giving with one of sharing experiences. Instead of a new toy or gadget, what about a visit to the spa, or a cooking class? If your sibling or spouse is interested in photography, what about buying him/her a MasterClass course with Annie Leibovitz? Or rekindle the gift of giving by making a charitable donation in honour of a family member.
Think outside the box when wrapping gifts
The act of exchanging presents is a time-honoured tradition for countless families around the world. If it’s too hard to drop completely, how about forgoing the traditional wrapping paper and plastic tape by switching to newspaper and recycled paper (or even fabric) to wrap gifts? Instead of bows, bind your gifts with reusable twine or cloth ribbons for the ultimate effect.
Embrace plastic-free decorations
When it comes time to ditch worn and torn plastic decorations, consider adorning your tree and home with reusable décor (rather than the disposable kind) and real garland over plastic. Also, try to refuse fake snow whenever possible; it’s made from finely ground polystyrene, which is a possible human carcinogen and environmental pollutant. Instead, draw inspiration from yesteryear, when strings of popcorn and pinecones were the go-to ornaments.
Consider shopping at home first
Whether it’s shopping for gifts, or stocking up on groceries, let the journey for a new season of holiday festivities start at home – because who knows what you might find. Think about making or baking gifts, or giving new life to quality items you own but no longer use.
Remember: Memories make the most sustainable gift
Sure, we’d all like to replace our forks and spoons, and cups of apple cider, with more sustainable alternatives; but more importantly, remember that memories are the most eco-conscious gift we can give – to ourselves and those around us. Eat, drink and be merry with your friends and family while forging new bonds, new experiences and new traditions (preferably those without single-use plastic).
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