Most Canadians dream of a white Christmas. But perhaps we should be thinking of ways to add a little more green to this year’s holiday celebration.
Every year the cost of Christmas increases as the price of products rise. According to TD Canada Trust, in 2010 the average Canadian household spent approximately $587 on food, gifts and entertainment – which is more than most families can realistically afford.
But that’s just the financial cost. What about the environmental cost? We often forget about things like water usage, greenhouse pollution, solid waste and land disturbance. Think about how many tons of gift wrap is thrown away over the holidays, or how many hundreds of thousands of liters of water is used. What about the vast amount of electricity consumed to operate Christmas lights and TV and DVD players so you can enjoy your favorite holiday classics?
So what can we do to cut down on the environmental costs of Christmas? Here’s a list of nine ideas to try with your family this holiday season.
1. Use environmentally friendly gift wrap. Foil and Metallic wrap is not recyclable, so remember to use paper that can be brought to your local blue bin after Christmas. To help cut down on financial costs, make your own wrapping paper using old newspaper, sale flyers, junk mail, calendars, maps or posters. You can also make your own cards, gift tags and bows using discarded ribbon.
2. Turn off the lights when you are not home. When you are home and want to enjoy the tree lights, turn off all other lights, plug in the tree, light a few candles and enjoy a wonderful, cozy Christmas scene with reduced environmental impact. It’ll also help your family save a little on the power bill.
3. Buy products that are environmentally-friendly alternatives to their counterparts. There are a number of cleaning products, candles, soaps, healthcare products and clothes that are considered green. When shopping read the labels to see if what you are buying is environmentally safe.
4. Buy second hand gifts when possible and appropriate. Used video games and systems, books, CD’s, DVD’s and board games offer a great way to reuse products. They also help make the holidays a little easier on the pocket book. Look for items that are in good condition and offer a guarantee.
5. Use LED Christmas lights which will last longer than regular bulbs and use less energy.
6. Recycle: it seems so obvious, but if each household recycled all of the boxes and packaging from gifts and food products, as well as plastic and glass bottles, milk jugs etc., millions of extra tons of garbage could be eliminated from landfills.
7. If you get a real Christmas tree take it to a designated recycling area after the holidays so it can be turned into wood chips which will be used in gardens and parks come spring.
8. Use a reusable coffee mug when you go on Christmas shopping excursions, to local parades or friend’s holiday parties. This will cut down on the number of paper cups being thrown away. And if you make your favorite tea, coffee, hot chocolate or cider at home it’ll also help you cut down on spending.
9. Make your own gifts. Most people, parents and grandparents especially enjoy receiving photo albums and calendars depicting fun family times. Perhaps you could make a Christmas scrap book of Family Traditions that could be passed down to future generations. Make your own art if you enjoy drawing or painting, or if you enjoy sewing make a gift using old fabric or clothing. Be creative. Making your own gifts is both environmentally friendly and financially feasible.
Above all else remember the true meaning of the holidays. Share in the joy of the season; rejoice in time spent with family and friends. Take a few minutes each day to be thankful for all you have and stop worrying about that which you don’t. ‘Tis the season to embrace the simple joys in life. And by making simple changes to the way you celebrate you can help make this Christmas an especially green one.