Have a GREEN Holiday 

How to Reduce Waste During this Festive Season

Whether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, or another holiday, this is the time of year when Canadian society produces a phenomenal amount of garbage. Canadians are already the third largest producers of waste on earth (the United States is in first place, Australia is number two). That is not a title to be proud of. At this time of year when so many are thinking about friends and family, how about contributing a little time and effort for our environment. Cutting down on garbage production is not a difficult task. In fact, old habits can be changed easily with a little thought and planning. Here are some examples of how you can reduce you impact on your environment this season:

Wrap gifts in newspaper or recycled content paper. Save discarded wrapping paper and bows for next season.

Chip your tree. If you get a Christmas tree, remember to compost it or chip it through Scouting Canada.

Make Christmas ornaments for the tree using scrap material and paper, fruit, cookies, or non-recyclable material such as styrofoam.

Pay attention to packaging. When shopping for groceries or gifts select items with minimal packaging. Packaging makes up a significant percentage of landfill space and is often completely unnecessary.

Donate to a charity. Do some research into charitable organizations that make improvements to our environment and community. There are loads and donations can be made over the phone directly with a credit card or via the Internet. Take the time and surf the web for an area that interests you.

Make greeting cards from waste paper or cardboard. Move over Martha Stewart, making your own cards is simple and inexpensive and can require very little time.

Put on some snowshoes or skis and park the car. This year forfeit the family drive and put on some snowshoes for a walk in the snow or some cross country skis. Ex-rentals are commonly purchased in local outfitters stores. Get some easy exercise and save yourself the hassle of traffic, parking, and the cost of gas.

Feed yourself, feed the birds. Build a birdfeeder using an old 2 Litre plastic pop bottle. Fill it with seed and hang it near a window for winter viewing. Remember to take it down when bear populations awaken in the spring.

Buy organic, buy local. Make note of where food items have come from. If possible, buy local or buy organic. This practice reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, commercial fertilizers and the need for long distance transport.

Purchase gift certificates for dinner out. If consumerism is not on your agenda this season, try giving gift certificates to friends and families for dinner out at a local eating establishment. You don’t have to wait in long lines, worry about correct sizes or colours, and practically everyone likes having a good excuse to eat out. Plus you are supporting the local economy.

Make presents for friends and families instead of buying them. Sew hats, bake cakes, pies, and cookies, construct picture frames, and tree ornaments, paint a picture, take a photo. You’ll be surprised how many people prefer a handmade gift to a store bought one.

Being environmentally conscious can be as simple or as extensive as you make it. The main fact is that it is easy, saves money, and even fun. Waste reduction efforts help conserve landfill space which can extend a landfill’s life span. This season, put the environment on your priority list. Start by adopting each tip separately and reduce your garbage production one step at a time.

For more information, please contact Wendy Horan, 3Rs Educator, at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District at 1-800-298-7753 or at ecoed@slrd.bc.ca.

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