Green Your Holiday

This year, while you’re brainstorming to come up with your go-to gift list for the special people in your life, think about starting a new tradition—giving a gift of sustainability to the earth.

We’ve assembled a short list of tips and recommendations that will inspire your family to get excited about going green this holiday season.

If there’s one tip to remember for an eco-friendly holiday, it’s this one: Keep the waste to a minimum. The more you reduce the accumulation of stuff, the more likely you’ll reduce packaging, single-use plastic, and unwanted junk.

Instead of buying wrapping paper every year, look for things you already have in your home to use as gift wrap, everything from paper bags to the fashion or comics section of old newspapers or magazines.

Cut down on waste with sustainable gift ideas. For someone who loves to cook, it could be as easy as sharing a copy of your favourite recipe in a mason jar, wrapping it with a beautiful hand-printed tea towel and tying it all up with string. Or decorate your gifts with nature. You can pick up all kinds of fun found items like fallen pinecones or pine needles and use them as adornment for your wrapped presents.

Cut down on food waste
From Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, 45% of all food in Canada is sent to landfills. Food waste is not only expensive, costing an average family anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 per year, but it’s also directly linked to climate change.

Plan out your holiday meals! Use a resource like to save your food from the bin. Their handy meal planner will help you create the perfect portion sizes. With a little bit of eco-friendly meal prep, you’ll be able to reduce food waste.

If you’re inviting guests over and expect you’ll have leftovers to share, ask people to bring their own containers.

To reduce food waste, freeze your leftovers as soon as possible. To remember what’s in each container, label the container with the contents, and add the date you froze it.  

Compost! Composting makes plants healthier and produces incredible black soil. If you live in an apartment and have no compost bin, consider contacting a local community garden—most have compost piles and would be happy to accept your compost. Pop your compost scraps in the freezer to prevent odour before you drop it off.

What about the Christmas tree?
Explore eco-friendly Christmas tree ideas you can reuse, like a potted plant. If you have a real Christmas tree, you can properly dispose of it after the holidays by recycling it—check whether your local municipality offers curbside pickup for recycling yard waste.

More Green suggestions
Donate warm coats, gloves and blankets to homeless shelters.
Donate excess Christmas decorations to senior homes and volunteer to put up decorations. Make up a care package for an elderly neighbour.
Create edible decorations that feed wild birds.

Green entertaining
~ Use reusable plates, glasses and cutlery. Borrow or rent if you do not have enough.
~ Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
~ Use leftover peels and bones to make stock. Enlist a cleanup team. Make clean up part of the celebration as socializing can still happen as you put leftovers away. This is a great time for kids to teach adults about recycling and adults to teach kids about reducing food waste. Supply bins that are clearly labeled for recycling, compost and waste.

Create magical lighting
Holiday lighting can be a drain on your energy usage and your wallet. LED lights are the most energy-efficient and consume 70% less energy than conventional incandescent lights. Some are even solar powered!

LED lights are also more cost-effective: it only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. On top of that, they are significantly less likely to burn out or break compared to their incandescent forerunners.

To maintain a lower carbon footprint, unplug lights when not in use or use a timer to regulate usage.

Shop Local
Now more than ever, it’s important to support our local merchants and retailers by shopping for gifts in your neighbourhood. You’ll also use less gas and reduce the carbon footprint of your purchases. You might even consider walking or biking to your destination. One way to keep it local is to purchase gift certificates from area restaurants and food purveyors.

Leave a Reply