This weekend, my hubby and I are taking our three kids to a German Christmas market not far from where we live. From the lights and Christmas carols to the German fare and handmade goodies for sale, we’re looking forward to doing something festive while supporting local this holiday season. The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, and moving forward, spending money locally is just as important as sustainability. So here are some eco-friendly ideas to make your Christmas a little greener.
According to research by American Express, 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business down the road benefits the local economy. Meanwhile, money spent at major retail outlets disappears into a hefty bank account. The last two years have been challenging for smaller businesses; if you’re going to spend the money anyway, why not shop local? You’ll be making a real difference for the merchants and getting your hands on better quality artisan products at the same time. It’s a win-win!
Gift Experiences, Homemade Goodies, Not Things
This trend has taken off over the past several years, and it’s still going strong! Christmas is an incredibly wasteful time of year and has become highly materialistic. Many organizations, such as Zero Waste Canada, recommend flipping the script by offering gifts that don’t add to the pile of “stuff” sitting around the house. A few ideas that come to mind include a family sleigh ride or a plate of homemade cakes, cookies, and bread. A gift certificate to a local meal delivery service is a great idea too and super helpful to a busy family or older person. Are you dying to get out into the real world again? Consider tickets to a concert or another activity where you can spend time with loved ones. If the last little while has taught us anything, it’s that simply being with the people we love is paramount.
Give The Gift of Green
If you want to give a tangible gift this year, keep quality and sustainability in mind. Go to a local Christmas market and pick up some beautiful homemade soaps and skin care products along with decadent handmade chocolates. Take cuttings from some houseplants you have at home and put them in a nice container. If you’re artistic, decorate the pot yourself like my mom recently did for me! Make some homemade jewellery with locally sourced beads. Offer an eco-friendly gift bundle introducing friends and family to things like biodegradable beeswax food wraps or green cleaning products. Many of us only need to try these products once to get hooked and say goodbye to wasteful plastic products forever; now, that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
Eliminating traditional glossy wrapping paper is an easy way to do the environment some good. Estimates by recycling advisors WRAP show the amount of wrapping paper thrown away at Christmastime in the UK alone could stretch to the moon! Yikes. Consider wrapping gifts in reusable bags or newspapers. When I was a kid, my mom had my brother and I decorate a recyclable roll of brown paper with sponge paint. It was a fun project, and we used that for gifts at birthday parties. Learn how to wrap gifts using fabric (Furoshiki) and without tape. And if you can’t stand the thought of not having traditional wrapping paper, eco-friendly and reusable gift wrap is available for purchase at various retail outlets.
Reduce Food Waste
You’ve likely heard the sad statistic that if global food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So plan your holiday meals accordingly, and be sure to use all of your leftovers. If you are looking for meals that carry a lower carbon footprint, plenty of delicious plant-based options exist to satisfy any festive gathering!
All of the above actions can extend beyond the holidays and become the norm throughout the year. But for now, may your days be merry, bright, and eco-friendly!