This holiday season, your tree doesn’t have to be the only thing that’s green! This Christmas, try to reduce your environmental footprint by shopping, giving and decorating more sustainably.
According to Greenmuze.com, Canadians spend an estimated $30 billion at Christmas, with each person spending an average of $800 on gifts. Christmas is considered to be the most greenhouse gas intensive holiday in North America. This is due to the higher than average amount of trips to shopping centers, large quantities of gifts being purchased that were made in different countries and had to be shipped, and the vast amounts of packaging produced for these gifts. Also, sending Christmas cards, buying Christmas trees and purchasing and making speciality foods requires large amounts of resources and generates many greenhouse gas emissions.
Then there is the issue of wrapping paper. The majority of wrapping paper is not recyclable, due to the dyes, coatings, and adornments and sparkles that often cover the sheets. Although gift bags and tissue paper are not an entirely sustainable option, using them instead of paper is a better choice because they can be reused much easier. If you feel like taking it a step further, you can even purchase 100% recycled content and recyclable wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, but usually at a significantly higher price. If you are interested in viewing some of these recycled content/recyclable options, visit www.earthproducts.com. It is important to try to cut back on the amount of wrapping paper you use because the paper trade is considered to be a non-sustainable industry (no surprise there). However, something that might surprise you is that currently, less than 20% of the world’s remaining forests are believed to be intact. Urbanization, population growth and an increase in affluence have all put strains on the amount of land available around the world and have caused rapid deforestation. It is a shame to continue this trend of deforestation simply because people don’t want to reuse a gift bag.
If you want to commit to having a more sustainable Christmas, using some of the following tips might just help you add a little more green to your festivities this year!
1) Send E-cards. In Canada alone, Canada Post reported that it will “take more than 575 daily flights to deliver all the 787.3 million cards, letters and parcels that enter the Canada Post system during the holiday season.” This amount of air travel produces astounding amounts of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. For example, according to sciencefocus.com, a Boeing 747 aircraft releases over 33 tonnes of CO2 during a 530km flight. To put this into terms that might mean a little more to you, that same amount of emissions would be produced if 336 cars drove that same distance! If we all cut back on the number of cards we send via mail, not only would we be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but we would also be helping to reduce the number of trees that need to be cut down to produce these cards. As an added bonus, many e-cards are free to send!
2) Use reusable shopping bags. Carrying a few cloth shopping bags around the mall with you does not take that much effort. Besides, many stores have begun charging 5 cents per plastic bag. That is an unnecessary expense – plain and simple!
3) Give presents that are not objects. Some great ideas for gifts that don’t involve packaging, wrapping, or travel to get it to a store include: a dinner, a movie night out, tickets to a show, or even a spa gift card (I certainly wouldn’t mind one of those!).
4) Don’t go overboard with food! People tend to pig-out during the holidays, eating more food than they usually would, and even throwing a lot of left-overs away. Figure out how many guests you have coming over and plan accordingly. You can always keep some easy-to-prepare foods at the ready in case you run out. Adjust your grocery shopping the weeks following a holiday to consider that you likely have lots of left-overs at home. Seeing food thrown away has always been something that has bothered me, considering that so many in the world go without enough food every day. Check your expiry dates once in a while and plan to eat the foods that are going to expire soon. You will end up saving yourself some money by doing this too!
5) Research the stores your shop at. There are many companies out there who have less-than-ethical practices. By purchasing gifts from these stores, you are indirectly promoting these unethical practices. If you want to create a positive influence with the gifts you purchase, try buying from stores that donate a portion of their profits. A great example of this is Tom’s Shoes. With every pair of shoes that are purchased from Tom’s, another pair will be given to a child in need!
6) Buy a live tree! Living Christmas trees come potted or in a burlap sack and can be planted after the holiday. This way, your tree won’t end up in the landfill, and according to “Tree Folks,” a single mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year and releases enough oxygen to support 2 human beings!
Embrace the spirit of giving this Christmas and give back to the environment!
For more information on how to have a sustainable Christmas, visit: http://www.greenmuze.com/green-your/christmas/346-christmas-the-eighth-deadly-sin-.html