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.


Kristen: The Gift of Time

Awhile back my family stopped gift giving amongst the adults, and instead we now focus on quality time together. Life is busy and therefore we don’t see family as much as we would like, so time spent together with good food and drinks is a gift in itself! As a bonus, this saves money and time that would be spent shopping for gifts!

When purchasing gifts for the children in our lives, we focus on purchasing books or experiences (great for the ones who don’t like reading!).
Of course, I always save the gift bags and tissue paper to be reused again. Same with Christmas cards. I keep them and repurpose them as gift tags.
Christmas should be about people, not stuff!



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.


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!


Jane: Wrap Like a Green Elf!

holiday gift wrapped in a 2012 cycling map, with a gift tag made out of an old card!
While holiday gift-giving is a bonding tradition for many, we need to start thinking about the way our consumption affects the environment… there’s just too much waste!! Beyond sustainable gift giving, I try my best to minimize my footprint by being mindful of the way I wrap presents for loved ones. The key is to get creative and use what you already have at home! I smooth out and save the brown paper from packages, and reuse boxes, gift bags, ribbons, maps, and cloth bags. These items can wrap up a beautiful gift, avoiding using more resources & buying more stuff. For inspiration, visit our 6 Eco Gift Wrapping Ideas blog post!



Denae: Gifts that Keep on Giving

The holidays bring a whirlwind of activity, parties, eating, drinking, and spending, leaving us exhausted and with an empty social calendar (and wallet) in the new year. That’s why I like to give gifts that keep giving, to extend the fun into the rest of the year – annual subscriptions or passes! Somewhere between the gift of experience, and a gift card. Movies, music, sports… the options are endless.
You can get creative and keep it local too!  Think about memberships to Cinematheque or the Manitoba Children’s Museum, or a 10-pack pass to the Goldeyes or Yoga Public. Like reading? Get a subscription for someone to a Canadian magazine like The Walrus or The Atlantic (bonus tip: some magazines offer digital versions, so you don’t have to feel guilty about paper!).


Nicole: Oh What Fun it is to Ride!

The holiday season usually comes along with a full social calendar, with parties, family events, and friendly get-togethers. When these festivities are taking place nearby, try to walk, bike, or bus there! If you’ve got too many presents to lug with you, consider bringing along a toboggan, a wagon, or a bike trailer. Check out our blogs on Winter WalkingWinter Cycling, and Winter Transit for tips. If you have events taking place further away from you, do your best to carpool with others to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
Travel safely and sustainably this holiday season!


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