The Covid 19 pandemic is really putting a damper on holiday celebrations this year. Despite the restrictions, I have had the opportunity to really focus on what I need versus what I want. I am so much more grateful for the little things like homemade meals and handmade gifts. Here are nine ways I’m reducing my impact on the environment this Christmas:
Buy Recycled Gifts: This is a no-brainer for me being the owner of a gift shop that specializes in recycled products. I am always on the hunt for new innovative products made from repurposed materials. But, used and vintage is good too. If you can’t find the right gift on my online store try visiting a second hand shop or searching local swap and sales.
Use Recycled Gift Wrap: In past years I have made wrapping from newspaper and decorated the sheets using hand carved potato stamps. This year reusable fabric wraps and bags are all the rage. Some are even made from beautiful repurposed saris. You can find printed fabric bags for purchase on my website here. Such a neat and tidy way to wrap gifts and use them for years to come.
Recycle Gift Packaging: It goes without saying that all packaging should be recycled. Sadly, some of it can’t be. I try to not buy anything that comes packaged in materials that can’t easily be recycled. Search for local makers first. They use less packaging.
Make you own treats: Instead of purchasing chocolates or cookies wrapped in plastic, inside a cardboard box and then shrink wrapped, I just make my own. I store them in reusable vintage cookie tins and repurposed food containers. Cocoa containers are my favourite. I decorate them by gluing pretty paper or fabric onto the outside of the containers. Not only do they look pretty but they make great gifts as well.
Get a Live Tree: In past years, I have purchased cut trees from a local lot or borrowed an artificial tree from my shop display. I love the smell of a real tree but feel bad about the excessive waste. Artificial trees reduce waste and are easy to set up and take down every year but are generally made of toxic materials. This year, I’m going to buy a small potted tree that I can enjoy for a few months and plant in my garden in the spring.
Care for Decorations and Lights: Christmas tree decorations and lights are not easily recycled if they are broken but can last a generation or more if cared for properly. Take care of those special pieces and keep them out of the landfill for as long as possible.
Eat Local, Seasonal Food: Eating local is more environmentally sustainable and it supports our local farmers but eating food that is in season is even better. It takes way more energy and resources to grow and store food not meant for our climate. Besides, who doesn’t love savoury root vegetables roasting in the oven when it’s cold outside. For sweet dishes, I use apples or canned peaches to make pies, pastries and cobblers.
No Paper Plates or Plastic Cutlery: Using real plates, cutlery and fabric napkins is really a necessary luxury you can enjoy and be proud of. Dishwashers and washing machines are so efficient these days that they use even less water than hand washing. I can’t think of a better excuse to reduce waste and take advantage of the finer things.
Leftovers: I love leftovers and take every opportunity to use them up to eliminate food waste. I am careful to store food in reusable glass containers and natural fabric bees wax wraps and bowl covers. I find innovative recipes to use them up. Last year, I made savoury waffles from leftover mashed potatoes for a Christmas brunch.
I try to reduce my impact in every way possible and especially during the holidays. I hope you try some of my suggestions and reduce you impact too. Happy Holidays!