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Each holiday season, I love watching old videos of our two little boys (now teenagers) opening their gifts on Christmas morning.
Normally, I’m just focused on those bright little faces, and the endearing things they said. “Just what I always wanted!” was three-year-old Gavin’s standard response, no matter what the package contained.
But, last December, my thoughts shifted in new directions. I’m now far more attuned to the health of our planet than I was when my kids were very small.
Watching those videos now, I see endless packaging and oceans of wrapping paper. One adult or another put down their coffee periodically, to bundle the waste into a giant green garbage bag.
Straight to the landfill
The holiday season can be so hard on the planet we love. All too often, the traditions we embrace come wrapped in layers of paper, reams of plastic and mountains of disposable shopping bags.
The numbers are enough to take the shine off the season. In Canada, household waste increases up to 45 per cent
between Remembrance Day and New Year’s Day. Gift wrap and shopping bags are the biggest culprits, sending about 545,000 tonnes to the landfill every year.
It’s ironic. Here in Canada, we’ve never had so many options
for treating our planet with kindness. Yet at Christmas, I’ve too often sung about peace, love and joy, while piling waste into the landfill.
How is this a gift for those around me – especially my children?
Planet-loving ways to give
There are so many ways to enjoy giving while caring for our planet. Many of them save money and stress, too. You’ll also have time to breathe in that crisp December air knowing you’re helping keep it that way.
Here are five ways to help keep the green in Christmas:
- Carry re-usable shopping bags. It’s a no brainer. And if you’re concerned about getting mincemeat on that new sweater for grandma, keep some for groceries and others for gifts.
- Skip the wrapping. Choose re-usable gift bags or give an experience. Take mom out for tea and cake or invite a friend to a movie. Most people would relish the one-on-one time with you.
- Re-gift or buy second-hand. Set the tone by inviting others to do this for you. Thrift shops can be filled with treasures, many of which are nearly new. And they’re much less hectic than the malls.
- Give love, not slippers. Honour a loved one with a meaningful gift in their name through the World Vision Gift Catalogue. There’s something to reflect every interest and personality. Many Canadians prefer this to a wrapped gift.
- Don’t forget ecards. Card companies carry a beautiful selection of ecards for a fraction of the price of paper. Opening one at work can make someone’s day.