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  • Justine Brown

How to Reduce Waste During the Holidays

Everyone knows about the growing waste problem and how it is damaging our planet. We hear about how our plastic straws are polluting marine ecosystems and we buy reusable shopping bags to try and do better but very few of us recognize how much waste we really produce, especially around the holidays.

It all starts in October with those spooky pumpkins. What happens the first week of November when those pumpkins end up at the end of your driveway? Then think about how many pumpkin spice latte cups, gingerbread house packaging, wrapping paper and cheap single-use decorations fill the trash cans. It is easy to over-consume during the holiday season without a second thought. Our fast-paced and materialistic society accepts this kind of behaviour. The truth is we are generating more than 25% additional waste during the holidays. That is not something we should be able to blame on the holiday spirit.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, trash is bound to accumulate. But there are ways to reduce waste without sacrificing your holiday spirit. Here are some ideas:

1. Make your own gifts

Canadians collectively buy 2.6 billion Christmas cards every single year, why not make one yourself? Give baked goods as presents for your friends and family to enjoy. Get creative with some DIY gifts. It means more when it comes from the heart anyways.

2. Skip the wrapping paper

The weight of approximately 100,000 elephants worth of wrapping paper will be sent to a landfill after the holidays. Wrap your gifts in fabric, old newspapers, used boxes or bags instead.

3. Buy local

The source of your gifts makes all the difference. Shop local and support creators in the area by being mindful with your holiday planning. Stop scrolling through Amazon and head out into the community for your shopping.

4. Do not buy disposable gifts

Cheap and disposable gifts are extremely popular as easily accessible and simple options especially for younger kids. Not only do they clutter the garbage cans only weeks after Christmas, they do not mean as much to the receiver. Say no to plastic bags too.

5. Research eco-friendly drop-off zones for old trees and pumpkins

In Ottawa, your Christmas tree can be picked up at the end of your driveway on collection day any week in January. There are often other initiatives where community organisations will replant them or tree farms will turn them into compost for their soil. For pumpkins, most farms accept them to feed to animals or use as compost. Do your research when disposing of food and decorations that can serve another purpose.

The holidays are a time to be merry but they do not have to mean harm for our environment. Being aware and making small efforts during the holiday season can drastically reduce our waste footprint. So be mindful when making choices that may impact your surroundings. Your future self will thank you.

Happy holidays!


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