This was written by Sharona Mandagie, an undergraduate Communication student in her last semester. Sharona in her spare time likes being immersed in a good book and going for a run around her neighborhood.
I am always amazed how my family, a family of four, can fill 2 to 3 garbage bags full of wrapping paper, ribbons, and plastic packaging after we open our presents on Christmas Day each year. I couldn’t and still can’t fathom the amount of unnecessary waste that ends up in landfills during the holidays and I wanted to do something about it on my end. So this year, I vowed to make some changes to my gift receiving and gift giving traditions to my loved ones and friends. For those of you who are also thinking of decreasing your environmental footprint this holiday season or in the future, below are some easy ideas that anyone can try!
We often forget that gift giving doesn’t always have to involve giving a physical gift. Offering experiences in the form of a gift certificate or gift card are great ideas that can create long-lasting memories.
Tickets or passes:
• To the movies
• The museum
• The art gallery
• A theme park
• A comedy show
• A concert
Gift certificates to:
• Classes to an art studio for a ceramics or painting class
• A night at the hotel
• A spa getaway
• A new or popular restaurant
Coupons offering your service:
• Labor (cleaning and fixing things around the house)
• Professional expertise (ex: teaching someone how to create their own website)
The options are endless and most importantly, they create memories instead of trash!
Give Green Gifts
If you do end up giving gifts in a physical form, the options are just as endless. Homemade baked goods like cookies, cakes, pies, and jams are always fun to make. Homemade goods like candles, soap, and crafts like jewelry and knitwear are also always appreciated and shows time was spent on their gift.
However, if DIY projects and making homemade goods is not your thing, try shopping green. Below are some of my favorite online stores that sell sustainable products:
For local options, here are some unique Vancouver retailers I’ve recently discovered:
If you find yourself with waste at the end of the holidays, don’t forget to dispose of them properly! Paper and cardboard can be recycled as well as certain kinds of plastics. There are also organizations like the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children who have a recycled card program that accept old Christmas cards.
Things to keep in mind to eliminate waste during the holidays in the future:
Learn the ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki, using fabric to wrap your gifts. This method not only protects your gift but the knots also eliminate the need for ribbons.
Use recycled paper and hemp as gift wrap and vines and paper tape to hold it all together. Adding plants and leaves as decoration can also add a nice touch to your gift.
Instead of buying and using plastic decorations, a good alternative is to use leaves and seasonal fruit and vegetables as placement. Try to refrain from purchasing more décor and ornaments no matter how tempting, as we only use them once a year and they collect dust for the other 11 months!
Consider emailing your Christmas cards instead of mailing them out. This creates less carbon footprint and it’s the message and content that counts.
The holiday season is the best time to pull out your nice china and cutlery! Encourage your friends to also bring their own dishes and cutlery to eliminate using plastic forks, spoons, and Styrofoam.
I hope these ideas and suggestions are helpful and remember, many of these can be implemented all year-round.