Holidays are here; along with holiday cheer, tinsel, and lace, we also produce too much garbage and waste! We’re all aware of the upsurge in consumerism and consumption at this time of year (rum and eggnog, anyone?), but I was sincerely surprised to learn that recycling wrapping paper could be the wrong thing to be doing. Naturally, this led me to wonder how else we can reduce waste during the holiday season! Here are 5 Easy Hacks To Help You Reduce Waste Over The Holidays.
Re-think the gift wrap:
Many generous Canadians pride themselves on gifts wrapped in gorgeous paper. The problem is, it’s likely not actually paper and not recyclable. If the wrapping paper is paper, it can be recycled. However, if there’s glitter, foil or if you can’t tear it, it needs to go straight to the garbage. According to Zero Waste Canada, 540 000 tonnes of gift wrap, bags, and ribbons were sent to landfills in the 2017 holiday season. Some cities, like Winnipeg, can’t accept any gift wrap because it’s too difficult to remove the ink in the paper. Check with your city before throwing wrapping paper in the recycling bin.
Hack the holidays:
- Landfill diversion: Re-use gift wrap year over year (turn it into a card eventually)
- Replace the gift wrap with fabrics, newspaper comics, a map, an old magazine, or a 2018 calendar: the year is over anyway!
- Wrap the present in another gift! Consider picking up second-hand cloth napkins, or a scarf to wrap the present in and tie with a piece of string. Stitch a cute button on to seal it up instead of tape, and you will instantly be the DIY hero of the family.
Cut the Cards:
Don’t add to the 2.6 billion cards disposed of each year! This season, put an end to the madness since the same rules apply as with wrapping paper: unless if it’s actually (tear-able) paper, it’s likely not recyclable!
Hack the holidays:
- Skip cards altogether (it could easily be replaced by an e-card or digital image)
- Re-use old cards to create new ones this season! Cut prints that wouldn’t normally be used for the holiday season into shapes like trees, stars and snowflakes and add a thoughtful message to them!
Forgo food waste with some planning:
40% of food produced in Canada is wasted each year. The holiday season is no exception!
Hack the holidays:
- Use this ‘guest-imator’ (ok- I mostly wanted to write that, but it’s also a fantastic tool!), to figure out what quantities of food to prepare. It even lets you select small/average/big appetites for your calculations!
- Consider dinnerware rentals, or borrow from friends instead of resorting to disposables. Many companies will rent what you’re missing instead of paper plates and plastic cups. The best part? You usually put the dirty dishes in a crate and they take care of the rest!
- Get creative with your leftovers and preserve food correctly using this guide.
Related Post: 6 Practical Ways To Stop Food Waste + Save Money
Give what you already own a new life:
- Look around at what you have, and invite a friend over to create some decorative gems. Create a tinsel-esque decoration with dried oranges strung together, turn cereal boxes into a Christmas village, or even create ornaments out of egg cartons.
- Integrate cozy scents into your DIY cleaning products! Use essential oils like pine or spearmint in your laundry with wool laundry dryer balls, or create your own all-purpose cleaner.
Related post: How to use essential oils to clean your home effectively
With Christmas Trees, you have more options than you think:
- Find inspiration with these delightfully creative tree alternatives.
- If you do go the route of artificial trees, it’s recommended to keep it for at least 5 years in order to break even with getting a live tree each year. Of course, since it will likely live in a landfill forever (not recyclable), do your part and keep it forever!
- Buy a real tree that is grown nearby, and get it as close to home as possible. Dispose of it by finding a Christmas Tree recycling initiative near you in the first week of January. Try the keywords: Christmas Tree Recycling [your city].
- Consider a ‘live potted tree’ or ‘live tree’: an opportunity to buy a tree that can be planted in the spring!
In the words of Metro Vancouver’s inspirational resource for its’ community: Create Memories Not Waste!