The holidays are quickly approaching and some people have already started shopping and decorating, myself included. I love Christmas. After enduring another year of the pandemic, some crazy weather events, and an expensive election, we deserve a little joy.
However, I often wonder what expense our joy comes at and what sort of damage we are doing to mother nature for a very short season. According to zerowastecanada.ca household waste can increase more than 25 per cent in the holiday season.
I am not trying to be a Grinch and I would never want to take away anyone’s jubilation or even make them feel guilty for it. But I do believe there are ways we can celebrate in a way that is kinder to the environment.
Starting off with gifts, I know my kids need less. Our house is already exploding with toys. And most of those toys are plastic that will outlive their owners in the landfill.
Zero Waste Canada also found that within six months, only one per cent of everything the average person buys at Christmas is still in use, the other 99 per cent has been discarded.
There are plenty of other presents my children would love rather than yet another plastic doll that is wrapped in plastic. Gift certificates, such as to the movie theatre, make wonderful gifts.
Homemade coupons for a date are also special. One-on-one time can be rare for a parent and child. When I look back at Christmases during my childhood, I can’t remember what I got. I remember the time my family spent together and the traditions that were created.
Wrapping presents can also take a toll on the environment. Canadians use six million rolls of tape to wrap up Christmas presents every year. There are easy and less expensive ways to gift presents.
Newspapers make great wrapping paper. If you are reading this online, yes newspapers still exist and if you’re reading an actual copy, reuse it!
Shopping locally is also a great way to reduce the Christmas carbon footprint, on top of supporting the small business community. The impacts of shipping stuff takes a toll on the planet but there is usually less packaging by shortening the journey to the consumer.
My intention for writing this is not to make you feel guilty. Far from it. Eat like calories don’t count, spoil your loved ones and make memories.
But if there are a couple of things that could easily be switched out, that don’t involve taking away any joy, yet help the environment, I would encourage you to do that.
Maybe just take a quick look around. The greatest gift we can give the next generation is a clean earth and possibly even better, give the gift of teaching our children how to care for the planet. Our holidays don’t need to leave a massive environmental footprint.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly,” says Anne-Marie Bonneau (@ZeroWasteChef) .