How to Reduce Waste During the Holidays

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Enjoying the festivities of the season unfortunately comes with a lot of plastic, shredded paper, and empty boxes, too. According to the B.C. Recycling Council, 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated in Canada from gift-wrapping and shopping bags each year. But not all of your excess has to end up in the landfill. Read on to find out ways to limit what you have to toss out.

Use Reusable Wrap

Reusable or fabric gift wrap is a stylish, convenient, and sustainable alternative to paper gift wrap. Fabric makes it easy to wrap oddly shaped items. After the gift unwrapping is over, your recipient can reuse it for their next gift giving opportunity. Make sure to recycle any paper wrap you receive in your blue box.


Trim a Live Tree

Living Christmas trees offer an environmentally friendly option for people who want to enjoy a live tree but want to limit waste. These potted trees can be replanted in the ground after the holidays. Check in your area if renting a living tree from a local nursery is possible. If living trees aren’t readily available, make sure to recycle your tree when you are done with it.

Give One Gift Instead of Several Small Ones

To reduce wrapping paper and packaging, try gifting one meaningful present or grouping presents together in your wrapping technique, as opposed to wrapping several small gifts. Even further though, if adhering to a specific budget, you could consider buying a single item instead of multiple small ones. This isn’t always possible but it can help reduce waste, cut down on trash produced by packaging and wrapping, and eliminates the likelihood of giving unwanted gifts that end up being thrown away or never used—especially if you find you’re buying little gag-gifts that are less likely to be used.


Be Smart About your Holiday Lighting

Buy a timer for your outdoor lights so they are scheduled to be turned off during daylight hours. Buy parallel instead of circuit light strands. This way when one light goes out, the whole strand won’t stop working, inevitably needing to be tossed into the trash.


Gift Experiences Instead of Items

To reduce the number of products produced and wasted during the holiday season, don’t give any away. Not only are experiences zero-waste, studies show that experiences bring more happiness than possessions. So, take someone on a trip, to a concert, on a hike, on a bike ride, to a movie, to a sporting event, or to a play. People are more likely to remember that gift longer than a material one.


Donate Unwanted Gifts to Charity

If you receive an unwanted or duplicate present this holiday season, donate it to charity. Donating puts an otherwise useless product into the hands of someone in need.

Gift wrapping for charity

Consider Packaging

Purchase items that come with minimal packaging (toys are some of the worst culprits). Choosing gifts in smaller boxes with less packing material saves resources and helps keep your trash barrels from overflowing. If you are creatively inclined, try making handmade presents this year or look for gifts made from new materials that were produced in ways that don’t harm the environment. Shopping local markets is a good strategy—handmade goods producers tend to not use packaging on their products at all.

For more helpful homeowner information, read our AMJ Campbell blog.