When coming across the term ‘Green Christmas,’ people automatically think of lush pine trees adorned with dancing lights and decors. But what we have in mind is a joy-filled celebration that promotes sustainable practices. We need to be mindful of our carbon footprint during Christmas due to the massive waste we produce in this most wonderful time of the year.
On average, every Canadian produces 720 kilograms of municipal waste per year, with the holiday season producing 25% more waste than comparable times during the year. Leftover holiday food, gift wrapping, plastic packaging, and household goods all contribute to this problem. For comparison, we create more waste per capita than the USA, and double that of Japan.
Waste reduction this holiday season warrants a new approach to how we plan and celebrate this occasion. Whether you’re an eco-warrior looking for more ways to better promote sustainability or a newcomer to this movement, here are some ways you to celebrate an eco-friendly Christmas.
- Rent, don’t spend.
Take a step closer to a green Christmas by renting a real tree. A real Christmas tree is more sustainable than its artificial counterpart. And to be more sustainable, you’d have to use your fake fir for about 20 years.
If you choose to buy a tree, make sure it’s locally grown. Find growers in your area that can deliver the tree to your location. After Christmas, you can take the tree to your local dump or have it chopped and make it a habitat for bugs and birds.
- Use eco-friendly wrapping paper.
You may have been reusing wrapping paper last year, but there’s a great chance that roll contains plastic, foil, or glitter. Make sure to eliminate non-recyclable elements when choosing wrapping materials.
One way to know if you’re using a recyclable wrapping paper is to use the scrunch test. Scrunch up a piece of the wrapping paper in your hands then let it go. If the paper remains scrunched up, it can be recycled. However, if it unfolds on its own, it may contain non-recyclable elements. Ribbons and bows add a beautiful, personalised touch to Christmas presents, but these trimmings could be harmful to the environment.
Choose recycled wrapping paper like tissue or brown paper. Reuse boxes and gift bags from last year, or wrap your gift with a fabric scarf. If you have small children, break out the crayons and make a family evening of decorating your own wrapping paper. As much as possible, try to steer clear from throwaway wrapping or decoration.
- Choose eco-friendly and fair trade gifts.
The pressure to go overboard when choosing a unique Christmas gift can be intense, but it pays to resist it if you want to minimize your impact on the environment. It might be best to suggest a Secret Santa in your gift exchange with your family and friends. This will allow you to spend on a single, well-thought-out gift instead of buying multiple items that may only end up in the landfill. For ideas on gifts that have little impact on the planet, check out this handy list of eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas. Shop for Christmas gifts like clothing, homeware, beauty items, and toys that are of high quality.
- Skip the physical Christmas cards.
Avoiding physical Christmas cards is one of the simplest ways to reduce waste. Consider crafting a personalized e-card or email. Better yet, call your loved ones to express your greetings or take time to meet with your friends and family over the holidays. But if you’re eager to send cards, opt to use recycled paper. Another way that you can reuse and recycle cards you receive is by cutting the front off a card and using it as a gift tag.
- Ditch the disposable cups.
Using disposable dining wares may be the easiest and most convenient option when you are hosting a party and you don’t have enough supplies. They save you time, and they can be chucked into the bin easily after the party. However, single-use plastics like disposable cups, crockery, and cutlery are among the leading drivers of increasing plastic waste in the landfill. To address this concern while still ensuring your convenience, ask a friend or family member attending the party to bring their own plates, cups, and utensils.
- Source your food from the right place.
The Christmas festivities are also an opportunity to express your support to small-scale ethical enterprises. Start off with buying meat from local producers. This way, you’ll use less packaging and fewer food miles, plus it will give you a confidence boost that you haven’t patronized intensive farming practices.
As a bonus tip, consume the food in your freezer leading up to the big day so you have room for leftovers. You can slice the surplus ham and turkey and then wrap them in parchment to freeze.
- Minimize food waste.
Literal tons of food go to waste during holidays, as hosts tend to over-buy days ahead of the Christmas feast. To avoid buying too much food than necessary, round up a grocery list (and stick to it) before heading to the supermarket. This lessens the chance of panic-buying and wastage.
If you end up with leftovers, avoid throwing it in the bin. Instead, use leftover foods on Boxing Day to reduce waste. You can also blend leftovers to turn them into a soup that you can freeze for later. Turn your cheese board leftovers into mac & cheese dinner.
- Use LED lights for your indoor and Christmas Tree lighting.
LED holiday lights use up 95 percent less energy compared to traditional Christmas bulbs. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, ten times less than mini bulbs, and about 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. In 30 days, lighting 500 traditional Christmas lights can cost you around $18.00, while the same amount of LED lights only costs $0.19. Switching to LED lights doesn’t only help the environment, it reduces your energy bills as well.
Turn out your tree lights and outdoor decorative lighting come bedtime. It’s a waste of energy to leave them on at night. Avoid installing them with the power and test them first.
- Recycle old decorations.
After Christmas, make sure to recycle your Christmas tree and the rest of your natural decorations instead of sending them to the landfill.
In some cases, recycling can be a tough job requiring expert tools. When you need assistance for your business, apartment or condo building, or other use, contact BaleForce Recycling Equipment.
We provide new and used balers that make waste disposal a breeze. Call us at (416) 235-1900 or visit our contact page and find the right baler you need.