As November comes to a close, many of us are about to kick it into high gear with holiday preparations. I recently read that over 300,000 tonnes of garbage is generated in Canada between mid November and New Year’s Day. The article was written in 2011 and I was not able to find a more recent stat, but I can only imagine how much that number has grown over the past few years. But the holidays need not be a wasteful time; with some smart planning and thinking, this holiday - and every holiday going forward - can be eco-friendly.
Here are 10 ideas to keep "green" in mind as we head into the festive season:
There are those who feel strongly about artificial trees and those who feel strongly about real trees. Personally, I prefer a real tree over a fake one but there's good and bad that come with both.
All holiday lights are not created equal. Be sure that you purchase LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights. LED bulbs will save you 80-90% on your electricity bill according to the light manufacturer NOMA.
LED lights run cooler which means there is less risk for fire and less risk for burns when it comes to small children and pets. They will also save you money—on average, LED's will last 200,000 hours. Incandescent lights last 2000 hours.
Cheaper ornaments are also not known for their staying power, so a few extra dollars spent now will save you money in the future. Purchase ornaments and decorations that are durable, made with quality materials and can be used for many years to come.
Shopping locally involves less driving and is not only good for your local economy, it also supports small businesses (something near and dear to me). Items that are fair-trade, locally made, or organically grown, such as coffee or chocolate make great gifts. One of my favourite places to shop for fair-trade and organic gifts is Ten Thousand Villages.
Most wrapping paper is not recyclable, so get creative when it comes to wrapping up those gifts. Click here for some pretty and eco-friendly ideas on how to wrap your gifts this year.
As much as I love the tradition of writing cards, sending them out, and receiving them each year, this tradition is slowly being replaced by e-greetings. If you do receive real cards or have some old ones lying around the house from holidays past, here is a great activity for kids that will have them upcycling cards into pretty decorations for next year.
Gift bags are pretty and can dress up any gift to make it look extra special but many of those eye-catching bags are not recyclable. Consider gifting in a pretty reusable bag instead. Your gift recipient will have a lovely gift and the added bonus of a bag they can use all year round. 2 gifts in 1!
One of my favourite things to gift each year is something homemade. It's easy on your wallet and to me, it's a little more meaningful than buying something your recipient may not use or even like. If you give edible treats, it is pretty much a guarantee they will be appreciated, devoured, and enjoyed. Find some food gift ideas on this page to get you started.
Consider making a charitable donation in a teacher, friend, or family member's name instead of buying them "stuff." Not only will you be giving them something meaningful, you will also be giving back to an important cause of your choosing.
You are also likely to find rare and quirky gifts at smaller shops. Give one (or a few!) a try this year, you may be surprised at what you find.
After all is said and done, don't just throw everything into the trash. What you may think is trash can be turned into a new treasure. Here are some creative ideas on how you can turn some of the holiday trash into something new.
What's your best tip for having an eco-friendly holiday?