Here are some tips to reduce your carbon footprint during Christmas and New Year
As the giving season approaches, it can be easy to lose track of our consumption habits. Household carbon footprint can increase more than 25% over the holidays, a majority of which are discarded gift wrapping and shopping bags. Given the trend that the environment finds itself, it’s imperative that everyone does their part in reducing their carbon footprint, especially during the holiday season.
Having a ‘greener’ holiday season doesn’t just have to mean evergreen trees and wreaths! Here are ten simple ways to be more environmentally conscious this year.
1. Make your own gift wrap!
Making your own gift wrap using household items can make for some beautiful and one-of-a-kind wrapping paper. You can use recycled brown paper shopping bags or old newspaper/comics. Considering how much wrapping paper Canadians have thrown away in the past, it’s a great way to cut back!
2. Bring reusable shopping bags to your shopping trips.
While shopping for your gifts and foods this year, don’t forget to bring reusable shopping bags with you. Using a reusable bag will not only save you money, but also limits the amount of plastic purchased.
3. Donate your excess holiday goods to a nonprofit location near you like a Habitat ReStore.
Have clothes, furniture, appliances and other perfectly usable items that you’d like to donate? Drop them off at a local Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin (Habitat HMD) Restore location. Tired of your typical holiday season decoration and you’d like to refresh your home’s look? You can also donate holiday season decor and donate Christmas decor at your local ReStore. The stores also sells a combination of Christmas and winter season home decor.
Don’t have time to make the trip to a Restore? Schedule a pick up and we will come get your donations (applicable to areas covered such as Halton region, Mississauga or Orangeville). Those goods will be used to make sales in support of Habitat for Humanity‘s cause in addressing the housing crisis.
4. Support your local artisans and farmers at a Farmers Market.
A great way to give back to your community is to purchase your produce and homemade gifts at your local farmers market. Farmers market’s offer fresh and seasonal produce and directly support farmers. By purchasing from a farmers market, you can help limit packaging waste, buy food that is grown locally therefore requiring less distance to reach your plate, and much more.
5. Get creative and make your own wreaths!
Use foraged leaves, pinecones and branches to DIY your own wreaths. Not only does this reduce plastic waste, but also is a fun activity for the entire family.
6. Don’t throw away your electronics.
With constant new phone and electronic updates, tons of perfectly good electronics are set aside your home each year with no destination in sight. Instead of adding more to your house’s clutter, donate electronics to a local Habitat ReStore and get a tax receipt!
7. Send e-cards or recyclable ‘seed paper cards.’
Instead of purchasing a card, send your friends and family a fun e-card which requires virtually zero waste. You can also purchase or DIY your own recyclable seed paper cards, which can not only be recycled, but can also be planted to grow different plants!
8. Replant, mulch, or compost your live tree.
Once Christmas is over, don’t throw your tree in the trash. You can replant it, mulch it, compost it or even recycle it! Have lots of Christmas tree decorations you don’t know what to do with? Donate Christmas decor to a Habitat ReStore near you!
9. Cut up your old pumpkins for local critters such as deer and squirrels.
Canadians buy over 10 million pumpkins a year, with a majority of them being thrown out. If you can’t use up every part of your pumpkin, you can share with animals or compost them. Be sure to cut them up as animals can get their heads stuck in whole pumpkins!
10. Thrift your holiday decorations instead of buying brand new ones.
Head to a local Restore and thrift some holiday decorations and ugly Christmas sweaters. Our Restores feature incredibly unique and vintage items. Make an effort to be conscious with your purchases and ensure that what you buy is something you will use for many holiday seasons to come!
Aside from the list above, there are a number of other things anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint during the holiday season. Decluttering your home, using your creativity, finding and donating holiday season decor and reusable household goods like furniture, appliances, and electronics, are among ways you can have a more eco-friendly yet still fun holiday season.
Habitat for Humanity mobilizes volunteers, partners and communities to help working, lower-income families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. Over the past 30 years, Habitat for Humanity has diverted nearly half a million tonnes of perfectly useful household goods and excess inventory through recycling and repurposing in the many Habitat ReStores across Canada, including the ones of Habitat HMD in Burlington, Milton, Mississauga and Orangeville.
By Mahyn Qureshi