However you spend this holiday season, we hope that it offers you a chance to reconnect with those you hold dear, and celebrate in ways that hold meaning to you. It shouldn’t have to be a stressful 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

Tracy-web-20150115-IMG_4084I 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!

Beth (staff photo 3949)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 demeanor 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!

Liz: Give Green!

The holidays don’t have to trash the planet. With all of the celebrations fast approaching, it is important to consider gift giving options that don’t have such a negative impact on our environment. E-Waste is a classic culprit in the Christmas-waste scene; people are constantly ‘upgrading’ to new tech models due to perceived obsolescence and purely aesthetic reasons. This technology consumption causes significant social and environmental issues in the local and global community. It’s worth taking a step back for a moment to be more conscious of your consumption patterns so not to add to this wasteful cycle. 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

Staff- Sylvie Hebert - head shotMany 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: Think local

Staff: Teresa LooyIn my family, we do a gift exchange for Christmas, so one thing we’ve chosen is to give locally-produced and handmade gifts (I can’t reveal what it is because it’s still a secret!). There’s a great sustainable purchasing guide on our website to give you some ideas. This year, we’ll be doing a ‘staycation’ instead of flying to see our out-of-town family. Cutting back on flights is one of the biggest ways you can reduce your environmental footprint! Finally, when putting together my year-end donations, I’ll be including a couple of organizations who help to promote care for the environment and keep it protected..

Justin Quigley: Bring food to the forefront

justin-bio-pic-asrts-95x95With the time commitment of entertaining and performing your holiday needs, ensuring your food is organically sourced and waste is minimized can be very hard. Our family is lucky in that we have a good relationship with a local Hutterite colony, making our local food purchasing easy to do. I think it’s important to plan ahead, or have those resources well established early rather than later. In terms of waste, this can be really difficult to overcome with the volumes of food families tend to produce. Informally, I have acted as “food waste ambassador” for the family, but certainly making sure that formal waste solutions are in the household and easy to use is an important facet of sticking to a low-impact holiday season.

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