Every holiday season I receive a sack full of requests from Canadians on how to celebrate a more environmentally friendly Christmas. Here are this year's tips on how to stay green, long after the snow flies. (Of course last year's tips still stand.)
Tip 1: Skip the mall madness.
Choose a gift-giving theme for family and friends that steers clear of the holiday madness of malls and get out into your community. Homemade, locally made, or fair trade gifts can provide more personality under your Christmas tree. Or better yet, give something without any wrapping at all, with gifts of special experiences or support for a favorite charity.
The David Suzuki Foundation's on-line catalogue has something for even the pickiest eco-warrior. From e-cards that support conservation campaigns to eco-friendly products, like a pair of organic cotton hankies.
Tip 2: Leave tiny footprints in the snow...
Reduce your gift-giving footprint by using less wrapping, boxes and packaging. Most of us have reusable containers and bags already lying around the house. For things that cannot be easily recycled, check with retailers, manufacturers or your local recycling agency about take back programs for packaging (like the London Drugs Green Deal program to collect and recycle non-blue bin friendly Styrofoam), e-waste, or batteries from kids' toys.
Tip 3: Give natural beauty.
The ladies in the house can usually count on receiving some bath and body products over the holiday season. Make sure your gifts are free of toxic chemicals by downloading our Sustainable Shopper's Guide of potentially harmful Dirty Dozen ingredients. If 12 are too many to remember, a good start is to avoid fragrance or parfum. (That was the most commonly occurring chemical ingredient in our recent survey.)
Tip 4: Take a pass on ye ol' shrimp ring!
Cross that hosting standby, the shrimp ring appetizer, off your holiday menu and replace it with tasty, sustainable crab cakes instead. Unfortunately, farmed shrimp has a large environmental impact. Choose more sustainable options with the help of Canada's Seafood Guide.
Tip 5: Feast on fresh or frozen.
Enjoy a holiday feast that's free of BPA - that pesky hormone disrupting chemical — by making your own cranberry sauce from fresh or frozen berries. BPA (Bisphenol A) is used in the epoxy resin of canned goods; it becomes hazardous to our health because it migrates out of tin cans and into our food.
What new traditions have you embraced to green up the holiday season?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green