Back again with a holiday blog for ya! This week’s edition talks about how to have a low waste holiday celebration.
The Canadian Press reported that Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, estimates that each Canadian tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays. This accounts for 25% more garbage than the rest of the year and can be attributed to the purchases of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six million rolls of tape nation-wide.
(photo from USA Today - "How to have a cleaner Christmas:")
There are so many great reusable or recyclable alternatives that gifts can be wrapped in to avoid using materials that ultimately wind up being stuffed in the garbage!
1. With newspaper, it’s such a common and accessible item that will be recycled anyway, why not wrap up a prezzie in it!
2. Reusable bags are perfect as once you given someone a gift in a reusable bag, you’ve not only been eco-friendly yourself, but have passed on the gift of a sustainable alternative for use again in the future. Peace of mind for everyone!
3. And my ultimate favourite, brown paper! It’s simple, traditional, and looks stylish under a Christmas tree. The best part... it’s basically customizable wrapping paper! Grab a sharpie and design your own!! Creativity is one of the best gifts you can give.
Now let’s talk decor. We all love to hang stuff, so how about a beautiful and natural citrus garland? Hang it from your Christmas tree, between a doorway, across a fireplace... the possibilities are endless. And it's oh so cute when the light catches it!
(Photo from Bust - "Deck Your Halls With This Easy Dried Citrus Garland DIY")
Heat up your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, place some thinly sliced citrus fruits on a baking sheet, and pop em in the oven for about 2.5 hours! Flip them about half way through and bake until there is no moisture left. Once the slices have cooled, poke some small holes in the slices with scissors and string some twine through. Viola, you got yourself a garland!
You can use oranges, lemons, grapefruit, really any citrus fruit you want. No guarantees on what colour you’ll get which is kinda fun! Here’s a recipe!
A much more fun and eco-friendly alternative to artificial holiday wreaths is going out into the forest, collecting a bunch of materials, and making one yourself!
All you need is a metal coat hanger, twine, and whatever you can find outside. Depending on what your taste is, anything from sticks, to leaves (ferns look awesome), to pine cones, to Old Man's Beard, to spruce and pine branches will work. Just to name a few!
And as always, make sure not to harm the ecosystem you’re benefiting from! Take only what you need and try to harvest from what’s been dropped already.
Twist the metal coat hanger into the shape you desire, tying the end off into a little hook for hanging. Wrap ‘n’ weave your foraged materials around it, securing with twine if necessary. Don't worry, it’ll get easier to thread through as you add to it! And there you have it, a beautiful, sustainable, and low-waste wreath. When you’re ready to take it down, take all the materials off the hanger (minus any twine) and return your collections back to the forest or compost at home.
Everyone looks forward to dinner crackers. They are fun, loud, and a holiday season novelty. If you want to go a little more environmentally friendly than the traditional foiled wrapper and plastic-toy-filled crackers, try making your own out of toilet paper roles, brown paper, spare cardboard, twine, and potentially a touch of paper tape! Here’s a tutorial on how to make them. Simply take the toilet paper role, put whatever little gift you’d like inside, roll it up with brown paper and tie the ends up with twine. Decorate however you’d like!
There's one final thing that we've been debating about here for quite some time as we get closer to Christmas. We wanted to know your thoughts!
Real trees vs. artificial trees. We made a list of pros and cons.
- typically grown in your city or surrounding area
- grown on farms which support natural ecosystems (wildlife habitat, etc.)
- made from 100% biodegradable plant tissue
- PVC and lead-free
- trees act as carbon sinks by absorbing CO2
- are a renewable resource as new trees are planted every year
- can be 'recycled' afterward - dry the wood out for use next year in a woodstove or fireplace
- or can be decomposed which adds nutrients back to the earth
- have to buy every year
- more labour intensive
- more cleanup
- more expensive in the long run
- it can die and you might be stuck with a brown tree on Christmas morning :(
- can be used year after year for a long time
- less labour intensive
- very minimal clean up
- majority come from overseas
- made in factories where raw materials are used, natural resources are consumed, and they require long-distance transportation
- made of non-biodegradable plastics and metals
- contain PVC and lead
- do not act as a carbon sink, particularly because plastic is a petroleum byproduct
- not a renewable resource
- when it does wear out or you want an upgrade, they end up in landfills and will not decompose
To sum up, buying real trees grown on a farm can help support your local economy, while artificial trees ultimately end up causing more pollution through manufacturing and transportation. However, artificial trees can be a lot more affordable and accessible to all ages and abilities, while real trees require more attention, dedication, and strength to set up and take down. If you can afford a live tree, think about supporting local, and if you opt for artificial, consider purchasing second hand! We think that's a good compromise!
What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment below!