During the holiday season, we can be so swept up by consumerism and overeating, that we barely have time to notice our waste profile, the amount of driving we do, and our overall impact on the environment.

However you spend this holiday season, we hope that it offers you a chance to reconnect with those you hold dear, while holding true to your environmental commitments. It shouldn’t have to be a wasteful and regretful time of year. Here are a few holiday habits from our Green Action family to yours, sure to bring you some peace and good cheer.


Tracy: Give the Gift of Experience 

I try to focus on experiential gifts, like theatre or concert tickets and music and books. I like giving these type of gifts because I feel they have a double impact, as an activity that you share with others (we really don’t spend enough time with the people who matter to us) and minimizing the amount of “stuff” we end up with after the holidays and have nowhere to put!


Beth: Make Sure There’s Music! 

Music is one of my favourite family activities during the holidays. It really doesn’t matter what your voice is like – it’s about how fun it is to sing. After all, it’s just family and who can’t get into belting out “dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh”? Last year I found some websites with lyrics and easy guitar chords to strum along with our singing. Check for your favourite carols here and here.


Heather: Giving Back 

Although the holiday season is my favourite time of year, I am always mindful of the privileges I have to be able to enjoy it so wholeheartedly. This is a very hard time of year for many people. That is why my family, friends, and I have worked together to give back through volunteering, putting together hampers, organizing holiday craft sales, and donating to charity in replacement of gifts. Not only are you helping others and causes close to your heart, but you also feel good doing it! This holiday season, I encourage you to give back in any way that you can.


Jaret: Watch that Waste

At our family gatherings, I’m usually the one who cringes at all the non-recyclable wrapping paper that’s around. I’ve given myself the official designation of gift bag saver. I try to grab up all the used gift bags that are otherwise landfill-bound. And if the coloured tissue paper that people put in the top part of gift bags isn’t all torn up, I save that too. Having a little bit of a particular demeanour helps also –  I fold all the tissue paper up nicely and store it for next year. After being folded for an entire year, it comes out looking brand new! I haven’t paid for a gift bag in years and no one’s been the wiser, muah ha ha!


Lea: Give Sentimental Gifts – DIY!

The holidays are a time to show people you care, and spend time with one another. If you love to create like I do, then choose to make your gifts for your loved ones this year. Nothing quite says, “I’ve thought about you and put some time into your gift”, like homemade. Sure, it’s easy to quickly buy something off the shelf and wrap it for someone, but taking the time to make something they love really shows how much they mean to you. Pinterest is dangerous for this kind of thing, or check out some of our previous DIY blogs to help guide you here. Here are a few great ideas to help you keep the holidays as eco-conscious as possible.


Sylvie: Don’t go Changing it all at Once 

Many of my family members use alternatives to wrapping paper, such as reusable Christmas themed boxes, gift bags, blankets for large presents, newspaper comic strips.  However, some members still buy wrapping paper. It’s important to remember that the goal is spending quality time together, so don’t feel the need to change all your habits if it gets in the way of enjoying each others’ company!


Teresa: 100-mile Dinner

We usually have a small family get together for Christmas dinner – about 8 of us – and we do our best to make it a “100-mile” dinner. That is, to have the majority of our food produced within a small distance-radius of our home. This usually looks like, for us, a “happy chicken” from a local farm, vegetables from the farmer’s market, homemade french bread, and local potatoes. Whether your family likes to eat the same food that mine does or not, it’s not too hard to switch one or two food items for something grown a little closer to home (plus, it’s usually tastier)! My favourite part though? Eating the food!


Bethany: DIY Everything!

When giving gifts, I like to give something homemade. It’s exciting to see how happy recipients look when they see how much effort I’ve put into the gift. It’s also great knowing that this type of gift giving is easier on our planet than purchasing and giving the gifts we find at many retailers.


Nicole: Get Thrifty with Gifting 

The holidays have long been associated with new, flashy, and expensive presents. These expectations have created a stigma around re-gifting, thrifting, and homemade gift giving. I for one, am a huge fan of second-hand and homemade gifting. Some of the best presents I have given and received have come from second-hand and re-purposed sources! It is a great way to save money, extend the life of previously used items, and give something meaningful.
If you’re buying new, there are a few options to reduce your environmental impact. Invest in high-quality materials that are made to last, shop local whenever possible, and give gifts that help your loved ones be more GREEN.


Sean: Compromise for your Family

For years, I took a hard-line stance in gifts, but that didn’t work. For some people, giving gifts is an important part of showing their love. Then I thought—if what is most important to me is advancing social or environmental issues, why not ask for that? So, rather than make a list of things, I made a list of local and international causes that people can donate their time or money to! This way, I’m not burdened by extra stuff, and family gets to see my eyes light up when I hear who is being supported!

It’s never too late to start your new favourite tradition!