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Choose to #WasteLess this Holiday Season!

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As soon the skeletons and witch hats are put away (and sometimes even before), stores are already showcasing their Christmas decorations and merchandise. Commercials do their very best to pull at our heartstrings, encouraging us to buy MORE as the only way to express our love for each other.

The holiday season is a precious time to spend time with family and friends. But why not show a little love to our dear planet Earth during this time of celebration?

Here are some tips to reduce waste during the holidays:

1. Shopping: Plan ahead for the holiday festivities: make a list and stick to it! It’s easy to buy items you don’t need, and those impulse buys can really add up! Don’t be tempted by unnecessary objects or decorations, and remember to bring your reusable bags (some stores even reward you with loyalty points, or a small cash incentive, when you use your own bags). Don’t go grocery shopping while hungry. Eat a healthy meal and/or snacks before you leave the house and bring your reusable mug in case you want to grab your favourite hot drink while shopping. Remember to avoid idling the car. If you’re stopped, turn off the car! This will reduce your gas consumption, save you money, and reduce unnecessary air pollution!

2. Food: Order your holiday meal ingredients from a local farmer for quality meat and avoid extra packaging and food miles to reduce your ecological footprint. For a list of Nova Scotia’s farmers’ markets, visit this site. Learn from your previous experiences. Plan your menu well so you don’t get stuck with a surplus of leftovers. Leftovers can still be donated to those who would not otherwise get a Christmas dinner. Instead of letting the leftovers stack up in the fridge and spoil, share them with your guests in reusable containers. Ask your guest to bring their own dishes from home. For the scraps left on the table, give what’s appropriate to pets (they like to celebrate the holidays too), and ensure the rest goes in the compost to feed the soil!

3. Gifts: Consider offering an experience to make a memory rather than a traditional gift. While the tradition of gift-giving is well-intentioned, gift exchanges produce substantial amounts of waste. Offer tickets for a concert, a play, or an annual pass for a museum that will make memorable experiences. Because this type of gift is not packaged in copious amounts of cardboard and plastic, there will be less waste, too! Check out “How to Give Experiences Instead of Stuff,” “A Christmas with Presents You Genuinely Need,” and the Green Schools Support Package, Gift of Time, for some great green gift ideas!

4. Decorations: Decorate with objects already around the house. Jewelry and other trinkets can adorn the branches of your Christmas tree and make the home sparkle. Look around the house and find lots of decorative items you already have to help save money and reduce your ecological footprint this Christmas. Make your own ornaments, gift tags and packaging. Use comics, old maps, calendars, and even newspaper with stamps or children’s drawings. Check out our Green Winter Holidays Pinterest Board for more green ideas and take a gander at these support packages: Green Holidays, Upcycling & Green Gifts.

5. Christmas trees: Buy a living tree in a pot. Look for a tree that has the root intact so that it can be replanted later. To understand the environmental impact of the natural, cut, living or artificial Christmas tree, read this article. Decorate your tree with energy-efficient LED bulbs and find out how much money and energy you can save during the holidays with this comparison activity. Using a timer for Christmas lights can also significantly reduce energy costs and their footprint!

6. Stay at home! Look forward to staying cozy and comfortable at home during the holidays. Play board games and get outside to help reduce your energy consumption while enjoying quality time making memories with family and friends. Trips down south are attractive during this cold season, but they greatly increase our ecological footprint! For more energy-efficient ideas, check out Efficiency Nova Scotia’s website for some great tools and resources.

Have an amazing and green holiday season!

~Marlène Le Bel
Engagement Officer

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