Greening your holidays

Although this is a wonderful time of the year, it’s also one of the most wasteful. From excessive spending to throwing out wrapping paper and ribbons and endless amounts of decorations, the holiday season is definitely the most difficult time of the year on the environment. There are countless things you can do during this holiday that will benefit your health, the environment and your wallet.

Gift wrapping

  • Reduce waste by buying unpackaged and minimally packaged gifts and toys. Then find creative ways to decorate and wrap gifts 
  • Wrap gifts in fabric gift bags, baskets or reusable tins, which can be used for storage or future gifts for years to come
  • Use leftover fabric, lightweight wallpaper and colourful dishtowels or scarves to wrap presents
  • Homemade gifts are more personal, can be less expensive and don't have wasteful packaging. Give a gift basket of homemade goodies, paint a picture or make a wreath made of dried flowers from your garden

Decorations 

  • Use a live, potted tree at Christmas time and then place in your yard for you to enjoy throughout the year 
  • Recycle your tree! Halton Region turns discarded holiday trees into mulch for use in community parks
  • The greenest holiday decorations are those you make yourself, such as popcorn and cranberry garland
  • Use a mechanical timer for your holiday lights to turn them on after 7 p.m. (off-peak electricity pricing) and off at night when you’re asleep
  • Avoid spray snow. Instead, choose more environmentally friendly homemade paper snowflake cut outs

Holiday shopping 

  • When shopping, bring your own reusable tote bag rather than accepting a separate bag for each purchase (be sure to get your sales slip so you can verify your purchases) 
  • Try to run more than one shopping errand at a time to reduce your gas consumption and related  greenhouse gas emissions

Zero waste party planning 

  • Buy baking goods and snack food in bulk or large volumes 
  • Rent or borrow dinnerware, cutlery and cups to use at holiday celebrations instead of buying single use disposable ones. 
  • Cut up last year's holiday cards and use as place cards 
  • Place easily identifiable recycling and composting containers at your celebration so guests can compost organic waste and recycle pop cans, bottles, paper, etc.

For more information about the town's Towards Zero Waste program, read the Towards Zero Waste procedure.

Energy Conservation 

  • Save money by switching your incandescent light bulbs for LEDs (see below for more information about LED lights) 
  • Close vents and doors in unused rooms to help keep the rest of your home warm 
  • Caulk windows and weather-strip around doorframes. Also, replace any broken panes on doors and windows 
  • Wear an extra layer of clothing to keep yourself comfortable, and set the thermostat a few degrees lower
  • Turn down the thermostat every time you leave the house for two or more hours, and every night before you go to bed

For more energy saving tips visit the Save on Energy website.

About LED Lights

Save energy and money this holiday season by switching to LED lights (Light Emitting Diode lights). They come in all sorts of colours, designs and patterns, displaying the same festive twinkle as your traditional holidays lights. They use 90 per cent less electricity than regular holiday lights, saving you money on your holiday utility bills, and reducing your impact on the environment.

Another benefit to LEDs is that they don’t give off the heat of traditional incandescent lights. While you should still be turning off decorative lights when you go to bed or aren’t at home, using LEDs reduces the overall risk of combining hot lights with a dry tree, flammable decorations or little fingers.

Remember, keep holiday plans stress-free and low cost. Start early, stick to a budget and be creative. And most of all, don’t be afraid to start new green traditions. Have a great holiday everyone!