Blog Contributor: Erica Harper
Did you know that Canadians throw out 25% more garbage over the holidays than the rest of the year? The holiday season is extremely wasteful due to wrapping paper, tape, cards, foil and plastic that are all used for gift giving traditions. That being said, what if this time of year wasn’t synonymous with excess waste and extreme overconsumption? As an individual, there are a lot of strategies that you can employ to cut down on the unnecessary waste from gifts and its wrapping. This article will help you navigate the season without feeling overwhelmed by the environmental effects of gift giving.
Here are a few tips to reduce waste while still participating in your family’s and friends’ gift exchange traditions:
- Buy local: This tip is often suggested because buying local immediately reduces the carbon footprint of your goods, and usually the products purchased come with significantly less packaging than what you can find at a retail store. Added bonus: purchasing local goods encourages small businesses (who naturally have lower carbon footprints than corporations) and stimulates the local economy.
- Give the gift of an experience: Many people enjoy receiving an experience as a gift rather than a material object that takes up space and that they may never use. By purchasing an experience for someone such as tickets to a sports game, a relaxing getaway or a play, you are able to quickly reduce packaging waste (experience-type gifts are usually minimally wrapped, if wrapped at all). Additionally, you are avoiding purchasing a material product that will eventually make its way to a landfill.
- Purchase reusable gift wrap: Thankfully, more and more people are considering the environment during this gift giving season and small companies have started selling festive cloth bags for wrapping purposes. These cloth bags are perfect for wrapping gifts or even baked goods! They can also serve as a gift themselves in addition to what you’ve added inside. Their designs resemble wrapping paper and they add a nice crafty feel to your presents.
- Donate to a charity: Instead of purchasing a material gift, show your family and friends how thoughtful you are by donating to a charity that means a lot to them in their name. This kind of gift is very touching to those receiving it, and you’ll feel great knowing that you helped a charity in need this holiday season. It really is a win-win gift idea!
- Get thrifty: Thrift stores are gaining popularity for many great reasons. First, they repurpose and resell clothing that would have otherwise been thrown out or creating clutter in someone’s closet. Second, their prices are usually quite affordable and if you’re lucky, you can even find designer brands! Thrift stores also sell home décor, small kitchen appliances, and accessories so it’s a perfect place to purchase some unique gifts without buying and creating demand for new items.
- Give your time: So many of us lead busy lives and have trouble dedicating time to those who matter most. An easy way to lessen your waste this holiday season is to give someone the gift of quality time! Plan an exciting weekend with a loved one or make time for a friend so you can enjoy a nice home cooked meal together. These gestures go a long way and you have the ability to get creative with activity planning!
Hopefully these tips are helpful and inspire you to think outside the “giftbox” this year as we all strive to create less waste during this season of giving. Always remember to be patient with yourself. Small changes definitely make a big difference as you can lead by example and further inspire others to live more sustainable lives.