5 ways to make your holidays more sustainable

by Imann Abella
Imann is a Business Administration student who volunteers as a Sustainability Ambassador. He is interested in corporate sustainability and integrating sustainability into marketing.
You can connect with Imann on LinkedIn.

The holiday season is about celebrating the values that bind people together. It’s a special time filled with a great deal of celebration amongst our loved ones. It involves exchanging gifts, a delicious feast, and tons of decorating.

But with remarkable celebration, comes a great deal of waste. According to Zero-Waste Canada, 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated throughout the holidays, just by gift wrapping and shopping bags alone. With that in mind, the gifts, and decorations we usually purchase are NOT a gift to the planet.

To those celebrating at this time of the year, here are 5 ways to make your holidays more sustainable:

1. Choose sustainable gifts

Keep your holiday footprint small by gifting products from recycled materials – choose companies that commit to sustainability in their product range. Small changes like this, can make a great impact on the environment.

You can also make your own presents, do-it yourself (DIY) style. Some creative ideas to inspire your new gifting strategies include creating a photo collage, making a ‘money tree’, or putting together a gift basket with sustainable items. You can also prepare a recipe in a jar by adding all dry ingredients in a repurposed glass jar.

2. Gift an experience

Another way to reduce your waste during the holidays is by giving experiential gifts rather than physical items. There are tons of activities to do in the region.

Group of 6 people walking on the edge of the CN tower. Photo by wschraml on Flicker.com.
Group of 6 people walking on the edge of the CN tower. Photo by wschraml on Flicker.com.

Here are some cool activities to gift someone:

  • CN Tower EdgeWalk
  • Niagara Vintage Wine Tours
  • Escape from the 6
  • Canoe tour of the Toronto Island

3. Wrap gifts sustainably

A big sustainability issue during the holidays is the excessive amount of non-recyclable gift wraps. To limit your waste, when you get down to gift wrapping, start by looking for reusable materials you have at home. This allows you to consider what you already have before purchasing something that adds to your footprint.

Gift box wrapped in white cloth.

Here are some gift-wrapping tips for more sustainable wrapping:

  • Avoid glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper
  • Wrap gifts in newspaper
  • Opt for reusable bags (or reuse old gift bags).

Learn how to wrap without using tape.

4. Decorate sustainably

A creative and sustainable way you can celebrate the holidays is by making your own decorations with materials you have at home. Allowing yourself to create gives you the chance to innovate themes, colour schemes and putting together creative items that you might never think of doing.

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

Here are some unique decorations you can put together:

  • DIY ornaments
  • Winter Wonderland Shakers
  • Dried Orange Garland
  • Origami Stars

Did you know that LED lights generate much less energy and produce less heat? Buying energy-saving LED Lights for your holiday decorations is a great way to make your celebrations sustainable.

5. Prepare an eco-friendly feast

Industrial factories cause harm to our environment and are major contributor to air pollution. Locally grown produce is better for the environment than a factory farm produce.

This year, while preparing your annual holiday feast, try to support local farms that grow sustainable produce. This gives an extra vibrancy to your meals, and you’ll be keeping your dollars in the community by supporting local business owners that might still be suffering from the impacts of COVID-19.

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

At the end of the day, the holiday season is a time for fun, laughter, and love. If we are a little more aware, we can enjoy our festivities whilst making conscious decisions and being more mindful of the resources we are using. With little effort and illustrious imagination in decorating, gifting, and meal-planning, you can have an eco-friendly celebration that makes a difference to yourself, your surroundings, and the people you love.

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