Avoid the packaging trap
Packaging makes up half the volume and one-third of the waste going into our landfill. And for luxury items such as cosmetics and perfumes, the packaging can account for up to 66 per cent of the total waste. Avoid buying goods that are over-packaged. Consider "green gifts" such as rechargeable batteries and chargers or backyard composters.
Create a memory
Time is one of the most precious gifts we can give. Consider giving your time or service instead of a material gift. Help someone out before the festivities start by putting up their lights. Lend a hand to an older relative or friend by helping with their shopping. Offer to clean someoneís house, yard or to baby-sit. Take a friend to a concert or holiday event. Make and give "coupons" for special services that you will provide such as babysitting, gardening, cooking or teaching a skill. Give a gift certificate to a restaurant or the movies. Give your certificates in a reusable container that youíve decorated.
Give gifts that donít cost the Earth
Give gifts that replace disposable products. Or give stationery, cards, and envelopes made with recycled fibre. Make a gift such as homemade baking. Involve the kids in giving gifts they have made or decorated themselves. Gardeners on your list will appreciate a selection of seeds, bulbs or gardening books "wrapped" in a new planting pot. Give a plant that you have grown yourself along with your own compost in a reusable container. Promote environmentally sound transportation by giving bus tickets or bicycle accessories. Give a donation to a charity in the name of a young person or let them choose the organization. Swimming and skating passes or signing someone up for a recreational or cultural program offered by your local municipality or college are outstanding gifts that can help develop the mind and body.
Christmas is for kids
Christmas is for kids but when it comes to gift giving what are we teaching them? Help your children understand that every product manufactured comes from resources extracted from the Earth and that things donít just disappear when the garbage is picked up. Consider the suggestion of Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, to limit purchases to $100 per family. This encourages people to be more creative with gift giving and spend more time with each other.
Give them a "good wrap"
Use reusable gift bags or make reusable cloth gift bags out of colourful fabric. Be creative. Wrap gifts in the comics, kidsí drawings, used posters, maps or sheet music. Give a gift in a gift: wrap a cookbook in a new tea towel or a book inside a pillowcase. Save wrapping paper and bows for reuse.
Make your party or celebration waste-wise When possible, avoid disposable items such as paper plates, napkins and plastic cups. Ensure everyone knows where to put returnable and recyclable containers. Offer condiments in bulk instead of individual packets. Compost kitchen scraps (no meat, cooked food or grains).
Lighten the landfill load
Remember to use your curbside recycling program or the Recycling Drop-offs in your community to recycle unwanted wrapping paper, gift boxes, cards, catalogues, flyers, metal and glass food containers and household plastic containers. If youíre unsure about what items are accepted or how to prepare them check out the City of Nanaimo website at www.city.nanaimo.bc.ca or the RDN website at www.rdn.bc.ca, your Curbside Recycling Guide or Recycling Drop-off signage. Watch the local papers for Christmas tree recycling programs in your community.
Keep the Zero Waste Holiday Spirit going year round
Trimming our wasteline during the holidays generates a host of benefits from saving money and alleviating stress to conserving scarce landfill space and reducing greenhouse gases. But donít stop when the Holiday Season is over, keep the Zero Waste spirit year round.