Here come the holidays! The warmth of dinners with family and friends, the office party, putting up the Christmas lights, buying gifts and figuring out how to get to and fro and fit all those visits in—it’s not easy being green amidst all the hubbub. Rest assured, there are a ton of ways to have fun while taking care of both the planet and the budget. There’s no need to scrimp on generosity, sharing and smart gift-giving. A couple of tips can change all this. Are you ready to reinvent Christmas?
Food for thought for the holidays
The more local the food is, the less it has traveled and the smaller its ecological footprint. So how about arranging a meal around a local theme? Each guest brings their favourite dish, under one condition: all the ingredients (or almost all) must come from Canada—or even just your province. It’s easier than you might think. The nation is truly full of foodie treasures! Why not discover some new flavours and spice up the evening?
When it comes to setting the table, you know that disposable plates, glasses and table covers are not the best way to go, but if you are tempted to go disposable, then go bamboo. It’s an easily recyclable material that’s becoming more and more available.
If you think you may have plenty of leftovers at the end of the evening, ask your guests to bring an empty container to take them home in. Or just clean up knowing you can find a novel way or a recipe to give them a second life the next day. And if there truly is a lot, compost it! Many cities and towns in Canada now offer compostable waste collection.
Once they light up our streets and homes when December comes, it’s tough to go without the Christmas lights. One option is to use a timer that turns them on at five o’clock and turns them off and midnight—especially if you’re the forgetful kind. If you’re buying new lights, choose more efficient, safer and long-lasting LED bulbs. Some even run on solar energy now!
When it comes to the traditional Christmas tree, natural trees get a lot of criticism because of how they’re grown and transported. However, a study from Ellipsos, a firm that specializes in sustainable development, shows that unless you keep your artificial tree for twenty years, natural trees are the option that generates less greenhouse gas.
Home-made trees are a great option if you’re are a handy person. With a little bit of creativity, they can be original and breathtaking at the same time. Check online to find the one that catches your Christmas spirit.
Rather than buying brand new, why not treasure hunt for used items? All across Canada, there are stores where you can dig up some real finds: books, decorations, games and even fashionable clothing. Surprise your guests with a one-of-a-kind item that they haven’t seen in any store or catalogue. When it comes to gift wrap, find inspiration in the Japanese fashion of Furoshiki, a technique where you wrap your gifts in cloth. Magnificent, original and recyclable! You can then use it to wrap future gifts. Another great idea is a home-made present: a photo in a beautiful frame, an eye-catching pot of treats or an assortment of preserves—gifts that keep on giving! Because it’s not the cost, it’s the thought that counts!
Getting around green
There are plenty of ways to go green behind the wheel. First, make sure you don’t overload your vehicle, and check the state of the car before setting off. However, if there are twenty guests and each brings their own vehicle, all these efforts will come to naught. Set up some ride-sharing instead. Do the math. If each car is filled with passengers, there will be only four on the road rather than twenty, which makes a big difference on the environment. If the guests are not all coming from the same places, there are sites all across Canada that offer ride-sharing between strangers going the same way. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a neighbour heading in the same direction as you for the holidays! And of course, make sure your driver is careful, particularly if it’s snowy outside.
Having a jolly good time and sharing the Christmas cheer is possible—and perhaps even more enjoyable. It just takes a little imagination. To save our planet, keep in mind that if seven billion of us do it, it’s the little acts that make the difference.
How about you? What are your eco-tips for green holidays?