By Georgina Wade
While the holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year for most, it’s not always easy on the planet. Along with warmth and magic, this time of year also consists of consumerism, un-recyclable decorations, food waste, and lots of rubbish in general. This year more than most, it is a season for being thankful for what one has, so why not give to the environment this year by taking actions to have an eco-friendly (dare I say evergreen) Christmas? Here are some of the ways to do just that…
Be mindful when decorating
That plastic Santa you are contemplating getting for your front entrance – what are the chances it will end up in your bin a few Christmases down the line? If your answer is anywhere close to ‘maybe’, perhaps it is best that you forgo the Santa and opt for some décor that brings you so much joy that you see yourself struggling not to bring it out in the middle of July. If your decoration isn’t compostable or recyclable, it will head straight to the landfill to pollute the planet, eventually contaminating the soil and making its way into the environment, negatively affecting wildlife. Stick to decorations that are not only adorable but reusable. If you decide not to reuse an item, consider donating it instead of trashing it.
Use reused or reusable gift wrap
There is nothing quite like ripping into a gift and throwing the wrapping to the side as you ooh and ah at the marvels that are a fresh new pair of socks. However, that snowmen-laden paper is destined for the bin and will create a lot of waste when combined with all of the other wrapping heading towards the landfill. An easy way to reduce and green your holiday celebrations is to use reused or reusable gift wrap. Using old newspaper or making a collage out of magazines is an easy way to accomplish this.
Buy less and experience more
You can greatly reduce your solid waste by simply buying less things! Whether it be a wine tasting, a pizza making class, a paint lessons or a dance class, the most sentimental gift you can give someone is time spent together – it also happens to be better for the environment. After all, there is a lot of catching up to do on this front once COVID is over!
Alternative Christmas trees
While pine and fir are some of the most evocative Christmas scent, holiday trees are only on display for a few weeks before ending up in the discard pile at the curb. Live trees that have been cut are a useful material for composting. Composting requires a carbon source and Christmas trees are just right for municipal operations which use chippers to shred the material. Look for tree drop-off locations in your neighbourhood. Artificial trees which are up for replacement can also be recycled. Another option is to create a Christmas tree alternative by decorating a potted plant or by purchasing a live potted tree.
Reduce your food waste
The holiday season can be a wasteful time in terms of food. In fact, a report by Unilever finds that each year in the UK the equivalent of 4 million Christmas dinners are wasted – the equivalent to 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings. One option is to buy less, but this can be tricky when guests are visiting for extended periods of time. This is where planning becomes essential. If you are having a large Christmas gathering, plan how much food you will need for the number of people attending and stick to your list once you get to the supermarket. Avoid overcooking and make sure to get creative with those leftovers!