Christmas is traditionally the period of peak consumption, when we go all out on gifts and food to impress our families and guests. You can, however, have a more sustainable Christmas season without having to sacrifice any magic or festivity.
1- Shop local - Many gifts in today’s marketplace come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local businesses often have a much smaller carbon footprint than larger companies. Local businesses are also owned by people who invest in their communities and genuinely care about the community's future and welfare.
2- Give "battery-free" gifts. According to the EPA, about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. No battery toys (or naturally powered toys) like wooden shape sorters and puzzles help boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They foster a sense of satisfaction when a child can do things "all by myself".
3- Recycle Old Electronics
New flat-screen computer monitors, laptops, cameras, cell phones, and other electronic items are common holiday gifts. Older models which are being replaced are usually still in working order, however, and should not be discarded to a landfill.
Eventually all electronics reach the end of their lives and they become electronic waste.
A United Nations study reported that 44.7 MILLION tons of e-waste was discarded in 2016, and only 20 percent of it was disposed of properly. A quick google search will help you find out where old electronics can be brought near you.
4- Experiences - Sometimes giving an experience means so much more than giving a tangible gift. It also doesn’t usually produce as much waste. Concert tickets, a trip to a museum, a long weekend in a secluded cabin, or a dinner and a movie date are all great options. Not only will this help reduce clutter in the home, but it will help create memories, bonding time, self-growth and stories that can be retold for years (or generations).
"While you are alive collect moments not things, earn respect not money and enjoy love not luxuries"
5- Get outside - getting outside during the winter months can give you a boost of much-needed vitamin D, which is essential in developing healthy bones and combating all sorts of illnesses. It can also help ward off the winter blues.
There are many fun activities to do outdoors as a family during the colder months: skating on outdoor rinks, sliding down hills, building snowmen, snowshoeing and skiing. A personal favourite of mine was skating on the Laurentian Valley skating trail at night time. It was lit with Christmas lights and I simply cannot wait to experience it again.
6- The 4 gift rule - A trend which has gained traction over the past few years on social media is the "four gift rule". Parents pledge to give their offspring just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. There is also a version called the 5-gift rule. The fifth gift is something to DO (passes to the local virtual reality arcade or indoor bouncy castle zone would be great!)
7- Find alternatives to wrapping paper. Did you know that we spend 2.6 BILLION dollars on single-use wrapping paper every year? Holidays are the most wonderful, but also the most wasteful time of the year. Below are some ideas of ways to wrap your gifts that are more sustainable. I personally love the idea of re-purposing old atlases as an alternative to wrapping paper.
8- Choose a live tree: Bringing a live tree into your home may seem strange but real trees have many benefits. For starters, most artificial trees are made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC releases gases known as volatile organic compounds, which are gases that can irritate the eyes, nose and lungs,” Dr. Glenn Harnett, chief medical officer, said in the report. ... The longer you have the Christmas tree, the more likely toxic gases are released due to PVC breaking down over time.
9- Having a live tree is indoor forest bathing. They smell amazing and breathing in natural phytoncides (wood essential oils) can help fight cancer. Contact with nature also reduces stress and blood sugar levels and it makes people happy.
If you purchase a potted tree, you can simply plant it outdoors after the spring thaw (given you have the space).
10- Have a Scandi-inspired Christmas
"Think lots of candlelight (from beeswax candles) and decorations in natural materials such as wood and glass for a Scandi-inspired Christmas,".
"In addition to this use winter foliage, pine cones and evergreen branches as the finishing touches to your festive decoration."
Scandinavian design is known for its sweet simplicity. LESS IS MORE. It's all about scaling back and letting a few key items shine against a mostly white backdrop.