Tips to Reduce Holiday Waste

Sometimes It Seems Like Too Much—Wrap, Bows, Packaging.

Christmas… It’s the one time of year when waste and excess seem perfectly acceptable. In fact, trying to have a sustainable holiday can seem downright Scrooge-like! But you don’t have to forego decorations, presents and parties to have a low-impact festive season.

Here are my top ten simple (and subtle) ways to cut back on waste:

Give an Experience

Instead of giving more ‘stuff’ this year, promise your sweetheart a romantic dinner, a foot rub or something more intimate. Kids enjoy tickets to a movie or play, a snowboarding lesson or a day of baking with mom.

Just Say ‘No’ to Wrapping Paper

It’s undeniably festive but incredibly wasteful. Because wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated or contains additives like glitter, foil or plastics, it can be difficult to recycle. (Check with your local recycler.) Hide unwrapped gifts for the kids. Wrap gifts in newspaper and ribbon, or buy recycled wrapping paper or reusable cloth gift bags.

Shop Consignment

Second hand bikes, skis, skates or helmets make economical and sustainable presents. (And while you’re picking up that ‘new to you’ bike, drop off the old one.) 

Recharge Your Batteries

We all know how many batteries kids’ toys can go through. Instead of buying single use batteries, invest in a charger and buy batteries like Duracell’s Pre-charged Rechargeables. (They last longer and need recharging less when not in use, compared to standard NiMH batteries.)  

Plant Your Christmas Tree

Gather around a potted tree this Christmas morning. Keep your conifer watered and when Christmas is over, plant it in the back yard. 

Buy in Bulk

Are you giving socks to your three brothers this year? Lip glosses to all five nieces? Purchasing one large package creates less waste than buying individually wrapped items. 

B.Y.O. Bag

Christmas shopping doesn’t have to result in a mountain of plastic bags. Tote your own tote when you head off on that shopping spree.

Choose Products with Less Packaging

Trust me, your kids will thank you when it doesn’t take 20 minutes of struggling, stabbing and swearing to get their new toy out of its plastic nest. 

Watch Kitchen Waste

Instead of covering leftovers with plastic wrap, store them in reusable containers. And to clean up those really nasty messes that call for paper towels, use smaller, more absorbent sheets like Bounty Select-a-Size.


Seriously, it’s okay now because it’s good for the planet. Just be very, very careful not to give that pineapple shaped candle back to the person who gave it to you.

To learn more about the Future Friendly program, please visit

Robyn Harding is a Vancouver-based spokesperson for Future Friendly, a partnership led by some of P&G Canada’s leading home care brands supported by the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Recycling Council of Ontario, and PITCH-IN CANADA. Future Friendly includes P&G brands, like Bounty, Cascade, Downy, Duracell and Tide, and ensures that each product under its umbrella achieves a net reduction in either waste, packaging or energy consumption during use or production.

Looking for holiday inspiration? Visit the YMC Holiday Guide to find everything from sweet treats and delicious dishes to DIY décor and favourite family movies. If it’s holiday related, you’ll find it here.

Robyn Harding grew up in a small town in northern British Columbia. She moved to Vancouver at eighteen to study journalism, before stumbling into a career in the advertising industry. When her children were born, she left her full time job to work as a freelance copywriter. While juggling two toddlers and various copywriting gigs, Robyn managed to write a novel (don’t ask her how she did it because she really can’t quite believe it herself). “The Journal of Mortifying Moments” was published n 2004, followed by “The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom”, “Unravelled” and “Chronicles of a Mid Life Crisis”. Her first teen novel, “My Parents Are Sex Maniacs… A High School Horror Story” was recently published, along with her first nonfiction book, “Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs? My Confused, Guilt-Ridden and Stressful Struggle to Raise a Green Family”. Robyn lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband, son, daughter and a seven pound dog named Ozzie.

Information on Robyn Harding can be found at