The Holiday season is quickly approaching and with it lots of food, gifts and decorations… and alot of waste. With a bit of creativity and effort, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season.
With this in mind, here are some tips for the upcoming holiday season:
Wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated, or contains additives such as glitter and plastics that can’t be recycled. Prior to removing tape on the wrapping paper and recycling, you should perform the scrunch test.
If the paper doesn’t remain scrunched and quickly flattens back out and unfolds, it is likely not recyclable.
If the paper stays scrunched up, it is likely pure paper and can be recycled.
Opt to use a paper/washi tape if given the choice, as plastic tape is not biodegradable and the more plastic is on the wrapping paper, the higher the chance it can’t be recycled anymore.
Using wrapping paper made from recycled paper or recycled material ensures that you are assisting in the cycle and contributing as less waste as you can.
There is also the less traditional option of using fabric as wrapping paper. These are perfect in house gifts as you can definitely reuse these every year but you can’t guarantee the receiver of your gift will reuse it.
Ribbons and bows aren’t recyclable generally due to the materials they’re made of but they are perfect for reusing.
2. Food Waste
According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste in Canada, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year. Food and other organic material incorrectly put in garbage bins ends up in landfill where it decomposes and produces greenhouse gases like methane.
To avoid contributing to this, plan appropriately for your dinner plans. Minimizing the chance of buying too much food and wasting it. Be realistic, don’t over-indulge!
Give the savethefood.com’s Guestimator a try. It lets you input the number of guests and their eating habits, leftovers wanted, style of dinner and then lets you know much food you should portion for the meal.
If you are hosting the event, offer leftovers to the guests. Encourage guests to bring their own reusable containers to take leftovers.
3. Holiday Tree
Prior to the holiday season, you will have to select what type of tree you will be using for the holiday season. Real or artificial.
After the holiday season is over, the tree will need to be dealt with.
It it’s an artificial tree, you can box it back up and save it until next year.
But for a real tree, you’ll want to take the steps to ensure that it is dealt with sustainably.
Some eco-friendly options include:
- recycling the tree through the city / municipal collections; where the tree will be turned into mulch to be used for parks
- chopping the tree into firewood for your fireplace
- pledging to donate your holiday tree after its use for the holidays through such programs as the one run by Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario; which will strategically place your tree after the holidays in critical zones to assist in restoration projects.
4. Holiday Lighting
Lights are a large part of the holidays. We can make some eco friendly choices on lights too. You don’t have to throw away your old lights and just replace them with more energy efficient LED ones right away. That would be even more wasteful.
However, if your traditional string lights do burn out, it would be the perfect opportunity to replace them with LED lights. They use up to 80% less energy than incandescent lights, don’t get as hot (safer), and also costs less to run.
Speaking of lights, another common waste is through leaving lights and decorations on for long periods of time. To combat this, you have to option to buy mechanical timers or smart programmable timers that will auto turn off without having you do a thing except setting them up.
5. Think Sustainability before Purchasing
Lots of shopping during the holiday season, think about the previous tips that we mentioned when making purchases on type of wrapping paper, gifts, food, and lightning. Try to involve eco-friendly thinking into all decisions you make this holiday season.
Some easy ones are:
- investing in a re-usable advent calendar so that new ones don’t have to purchased every year
- avoiding holiday wreaths that are made using non sustainable materials such as plastic accessories, decorations with large amounts of glitter
6. Re-use what you can
Throughout the holiday season, look at everything from wrapping paper to ribbons to decorations and analyze whether or not it can be reused before you throw it out.
Maybe the wrapping paper can be used one more time, the shopping bag could be used as a gift carrier again or cut down to wrap a gift for next year.
Be creative, the possibilities are endless!