Whatever it is that you celebrate this time of year, it can be hard to avoid getting swept up in the hustle and bustle of consumerism. Consider the following:
- Canadians will send 100,000 elephants worth of wrapping paper to the dump this year.
- Canadians toss ~50 kg of garbage over the holidays, 25% more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchases of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six millions rolls of tape.
- Nearly 5 billion pounds of retail returns will end up in landfills.
- Canada is one of the worst offenders for food waste on the planet; from farm to table, 396 kg of food are wasted or lost per capita per year (Every Canadian, on average, tosses away 170 kilograms of food a year).
- Food waste in Canada accounts for $30 billion a year — it creates 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, largely from landfills.
We’d like to humbly suggest that you take this holiday season to give back to the planet. It’s a gift to yourself and generations to come. It’s never too early or too late to start on the list below! Reading this after Christmas? Start preparing for next year!
Day 1 – put up LED lights sparingly in place of old fashioned energy consuming incandescent lights. Set a timer so that the lights are on for peak enjoyment and go off when you don’t need them to light up.
Day 2 – need new decorations? Purchase secondhand from thrift stores, through apps like Kijiji, ask friends/ family, or DIY from recycled materials (here are some examples).
Day 3 – give green gifts! See our blog on Sustainable Gift Giving for inspiration so that you aren’t contributing to the landfill.
Day 4 – for your holiday party think: re-usable, local, and simple. Need ideas for throwing a greener holiday party? Check out our blog 5 Easy Ways to Green Your Upcoming Event.
Day 5 – if you’re looking to buy gifts for the little ones in your life, check out our blog post on Sustainable Gift Giving for Children, including suggestions for the gift of experiences, time with family and quality over quantity.
Day 6 – get around in a more sustainable way! Whether it’s your daily commute to work or single-trips to events, transitioning to a more sustainable mode of transportation is positive for the environment and your wallet. See your options, and find ridematches for carpooling through GoManitoba.
Day 7 – when wrapping gifts, ensure you’re using material you already have or purchase a reusable holiday bag. Here are some great sustainable gift wrapping ideas.
Day 8 – get composting! Whether it’s starting from scratch at home, in an apartment, or school, or maintaining your bin properly in winter. Are you composting at your workplace yet? Get in touch with Compost Winnipeg for your pick-up options!
Day 9 – reduce your junk mail. We sell a “No Flyers Please” sticker for your mailbox (which is a great stocking stuffer!) for $2. Get in touch with us to pick one up!
Day 10 – there’s no denying that food is an important part of the holidays. It can be easy to avoid food waste this holiday season by following these simple tips.
Day 11 – donate to a local charity (like us!). I could be a monetary donation towards a organization’s programming or physical items that a charity needs (example: food banks, pet shelters, homeless shelters, etc.). Donating on someone’s behalf is also a great gift idea for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life!
Day 12 – spend some active time outdoors with your friends and family! Spending time in nature makes us happier, makes us appreciate the planet we call home, and motivates us to take care of it. Take a walk in the snow, go ice skating, etc. This is a good opportunity to get warmed up for the Jack Frost Challenge (February 3-9)!
And beyond! – Keep it going! Remember to be kind to one another and to the earth year-round. You’ve spent the last 12 days taking positive environmental actions – keep it going into the new year (resolution time, perhaps?)!
This blog was adapted from www.greencalgary.org.