A very merry, eco-friendly Christmas

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle

10 tips for creating less waste this holiday season

All photos by Devon Bidal, Senior Staff Writer.

The season of giving is upon us! On the flip side, it’s also the season of creating waste. Tired of contributing to the cycle? Here are The Martlet’s top 10 tips for a more sustainable holiday season.


1. Give less packaging

When choosing a gift for someone, try to look for items with little or no packaging. Zero-waste stores are great because they encourage customers to bring their own reusable containers! There are so many zero-waste stores right here in Victoria offering a wide range of products that could make for some great gifts. Westcoast Refill, Zero-Waste Emporium, and The Good Planet all have rows and rows of natural and locally-sourced household and general products, while Nezza Naturals focuses on aromatherapy and skin care, providing a range of locally-made, vegan, and cruelty-free products. Buying ethical can sometimes be more expensive, but at  Nezza Naturals, if you bring in your own container, you get a 10 percent discount on the product.


2. Make sure your wrapping paper is recyclable

Say no to the wrapping station! Did you know that most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable? The paper is usually laminated and has different kinds of dyes, and some contain additives like glitter and plastic. This means it can’t be recycled.  Try replacing traditional wrapping paper with newspaper, comic book pages, or paper bags from the grocery store.

Keep in mind that tape can also make the paper harder to recycle. Using twine or paper tape is one way to get around this.


3. Buy Second Hand

Who doesn’t love getting a one-of-a-kind gift that a loved one hand selected just for you? Take a spin through your local thrift and vintage stores to see if you can find some unique gifts for the people on your list. Though it may take some digging and a bit more time, it’ll definitely be better than buying something generic from a fast-fashion retailer.


4. Make Your Gifts

Is there something you’re really good at making or baking? Maybe there’s an art project you’ve always wanted to try? Homemade gifts add a personal touch and, depending on how you package them, can create less waste. Try making some dry soup or cookie mix and package them in mason jars that you already have on hand. Or take a pottery class and make unique mugs for everyone on your list.

The bonus? You can be sure that love — the most important ingredient — has been added.  


5. Don’t give ‘stuff’

Try giving memories this year! Looking for a nice gift for your sister? Why not give her tickets to see a singer you both like? Do your parents need a date night? Give them a movie night pass or a gift card to their favourite restaurant.

Memories don’t require any packaging and they’ll last longer than any fast-fashion clothing item or heavily-packaged toy.


6. Ask your friends and family what they actually need

It can be hard to pick a gift for someone and sometimes the gift can end up being something that they don’t need. Whether it’s that they already have that toaster or that they don’t even want a box set of live operas, items can pile up and go to waste. So why not just ask your friends and family what they need this year? Contribute to their next plane ticket, pick up a new set of windshield wipers for their car, or buy them a month of yoga.

If you’d rather surprise them or feel awkward asking, try giving useful gifts that will help them create less waste. This could be reusable beeswax wraps that replace saran wrap, mesh produce bags, a bamboo toothbrush, a glass or metal straw, or a set of bamboo cutlery. These items can be purchased with little or no packaging and when your loved ones use them, they’ll be reducing their own waste footprint.


7. Give your help

Remember those goofy coupons you’d make for your parents when you were little? They’d include a complimentary hug, whine-free chores, and maybe a family game night with no fighting. Take a page out of an elementary schooler’s book and try giving the gift of service this holiday season. Offer music lessons, babysitting, cooking, house sitting, or dog walking. This produces no waste and can be really helpful — especially during the busy holiday season.


8. Buy local

There are lots of stores in Victoria that sell locally-made products. Christmas craft markets are also a great place to shop local — and there are so many happening in Victoria this month! Local artisans set up booths and patrons can meander through the stalls looking at all the wonderful creations. Many of these booths sell eco-friendly products and items to help create less waste, too.


9. Host a craft night

Invite your friends and family over for a craft night and provide the materials for making beeswax wraps, homemade dry shampoo, or eco-friendly soap. It’s a great way to make some memories and everyone leaves with a unique gift — with no packaging.


10. Give a gift in a gift

Put your gifts in another gift! Pick up a cute reusable grocery bag and put the rest of the items inside it. This creates less waste and it’s an opportunity to give an extra gift. Mesh produce bags are very popular right now and they aren’t just for produce. They can be used as beach bags, purses, and gym bags. They’re also inexpensive and they come in a wide range of colours. Other ideas include scarves, bags from second-hand stores, and baskets.