12 tips for a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday season

Eco-friendly Gift Wrapped for Christmas

As we head into another holiday season, you may be wondering how to reduce your impact. With statistics like Canadians toss 25% more garbage during the holidays, it’s easy to become discouraged. But we don’t need to be! There are many individual decisions to bring sustainability to the forefront this holiday season, and by maximizing our creativity, we can minimize our impact! Here are 12 ways to have an eco-friendly holiday season:

  1. Create seasonal decorations from natural items. Transform pinecones or branches into upcycled ornaments or create seasonal wreaths from grapevine and greenery. 
  2. Utilize public transit to visit seasonal attractions like Royal Botanical Gardens’ Winter Wonders light show, the Dickens of a Christmas event in Downtown Dundas, or one of Hamilton’s three 40 ft decorated trees (Gore Park, City Hall, and Memorial Square). 
  3. Power down your electronics before leaving campus and within your home when not in use. Even when turned off, electronics like computers, laptops, and televisions can draw significant amounts of power. At any given time, it’s said that individual households have 50 electronics drawing power while turned off. By unplugging your electronics, you can ensure you are not drawing power over the break.
  4. Change up your menu! Avoid serving food as a buffet, as up to 50% of buffet served food is thrown away as food waste. Consider adding more vegan options to lower your carbon impact. 
  5. Recycle or compost your real tree through the City’s curbside pickup or RBG’s reuse program. Learn when to put your tree at the curbside on the City’s website or pledge to donate your tree to Royal Botanical Gardens’ annual tree collection, which reuses trees in stream-restoration projects.
  6. Offset your travel with carbon credits whether flying, driving, or taking the train. 
  7. Shop local & consciously for gifts that are low impact, sustainable swaps, or consumables. 
  8. Donate on someone’s behalf to a local charity or non-profit, such as an environmental or social justice organization. Consider Environment Hamilton, Green Venture, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Hamilton Encampment Support Network, Community Fridges Hamilton, or Hamilton Food Share, plus many others!
  9. ‘Wrap up’ experiences like a bowling night, joint cooking classes, conservation area passes, a paint night, or a waterfall tour around Hamilton. 
  10. Make your own wrapping paper to avoid plastic-lined wrapping foil. Use brown kraft paper and string to make old-timey, classic-looking gifts. Or go a step further and create reusable fabric gift wrap. 
  11. Give the gift of quality time by hosting a craft and charcuterie night, baking together, cooking for someone, or offering cleaning ‘coupons’ to a loved one. This can be a great low-cost gift! 
  12. Get creative and do-it-yourself! Some great DIY projects include making candles and bath bombs or offering your skills like photography, drawing, or knitting.