Rethink Waste during the Holidays

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to celebrate traditions with family and friends, but it’s also a time when we generate a lot of waste. We can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season and help keep waste out of landfills by practicing the 3Rs.

Help spread sustainable cheer this holiday season with these simple tips and traditions for gifting, wrapping, decorating and entertaining.

Green your Giving

Green gifts can be as exciting, thoughtful and as cherished as traditional gifts.

  • Plan. Prepare your shopping list in advance to avoid impulse and excess purchases.
  • BYOB. Bring your own bags and buy local when possible.
  • Homemade from the heart. A gift you’ve made yourself is always extra special.
  • Gift an experience. Theatre tickets, a cooking course or movie passes – there is something for everyone.
  • Make giving the gift. For someone who has everything, give a charitable donation in their name – two gifts in one.
  • Consumables? Yes. No one has ever said “A bottle of wine, I already have one of those.” Giving cookies, chocolates, wine or spirits – ensures your gift will be used to the fullest.
  • To re-gift or not to re-gift? Re-gifting puts gifts to good use and keeps them out of landfills.

Be a Wrap Star

Gifts can be beautifully wrapped using reused, recycled and natural materials.

  • Gift the wrap. Make the wrapping part of your gift with fabric, a tea towel or a reusable shopping bag.
  • Repurpose wrap. Create interesting gift wrap from newspaper, flyers, comics or outdated calendars.
  • Reuse. Reuse gift wrap, gift bags and boxes from previous years.
  • DIY gift tags. Reuse last year’s Christmas cards to make gift tags.
  • Made with love. Turn used craft paper or newspaper into Christmas wrap with colourful finger painting or potato stamps.
  • Say no to gift boxes. Reuse boxes from home instead of getting gift boxes from the store, or go boxless.
  • Let’s get digital. Send Christmas e-cards for instant greetings.

Deck out the Halls

From choosing a tree to getting the whole family involved in creating handmade ornaments – a green Christmas has never looked so beautiful!

  • Keep it real. Choose a locally farmed or cut Christmas tree. If you already have an artificial tree, use it for years to come.
  • Find Natural Beauty. Use natural decorations like Yule logs, poinsettia plants, popcorn and cranberry garland and wreaths made of boughs.
  • Find inspiration in your own backyard. Make your own decorations and centerpieces with sticks, branches and berries from around your garden or neighbourhood.
  • DIY decorations. Try your hand at simple homemade decorations. Try making a garland out of scraps of fabric or last year’s Christmas cards.

Entertain Guests not Garbage

During the holiday rush, it’s easy to let your good habits fall by the wayside.  Entertain guests, not garbage to reduce food waste and the avoidable waste from disposable items.

  • Resist disposables. Skip disposable cups, plates and cutlery for parties and gatherings; borrow extra items from family or friends if necessary.
  • Choose reusables. Use cloth napkins, fabric tablecloths and runners as opposed to disposable plastic options.
  • Love leftovers. Pack up left-over party food and treats and encourage guest to help by taking some home.
  • Scratch that. Make party snacks and treats from scratch to avoid excess packaging from store-bought foods.
  • Go digital. Send party invitations by email or use Facebook events.
  • Easy does it. Ensure guests know where to find a recycle bin; if you compost, have a place for guests to dispose of food scraps.
  • Make it count. Collect and return beer bottles to your local corner store and bring beverage containers to your nearest Green Depot.

Find a Place for Christmas Waste

After the holiday rush, sort recyclable items, carefully put away decorations, compost your tree and put earth-friendly cleaners into action.

  • Handle with care. Pack away decorations to ensure they last for years to come.
  • Reuse packaging. Christmas packaging and boxes can be used year after year to store your decorations.
  • Give your tree new life. Many municipalities offer a mulching or composting program for real trees.
  • Get organized. Collect and store used gift wrap, boxes and bags for use next year.
  • Sort your waste. Use the Find a Place for Your Waste tool to find out what’s reusable or recyclable and what’s not – some items have to go in the garbage.

Think About It

  • Canadians generate an extra 300,000 tonnes of waste from mid-November to New Year’s Day.


    If everyone in Canada wrapped just three gifts in reused paper, they would save enough gift wrap to cover the area of Mount Pearl four times!