Karla Durfeld and her daughter made a holiday wreath at Earth Friendly Event

Reduce holiday waste

Here we are again, immersed in the pre-Christmas season.

Here we are again, immersed in the pre-Christmas season.

While this can be a lovely time of the year with social gatherings, concerts and decorations, it is also a time of rush, and high financial and social pressures.

January in turn can become a month of psychological and financial blues as unwanted Christmas presents are discarded and credit card bills roll in. Meanwhile, cities and regional districts are left with the clean-up.

Here are a few interesting Christmas garbage facts I came across:

1. There will be an additional 300,000 tonnes of garbage produced between mid November and New Years Eve in Canada.

2. 545,000 tonnes of Canadian garbage annually is from shopping bags and gift wrapping paper.

3. If every Canadian wrapped three gifts in reused paper or gift bags, there would be enough paper saved to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.

4. In 2001 an average of $740 per Canadian was spent on Christmas gifts.

We tell our children that Christmas isn’t about the presents — we have seen the broken/discarded kids toys a few days after Christmas, the pile of presents for quietly re-gifting when relatives are safely back in their own homes, the clothes we hope to be able to return with no receipt. We know the good memories are actually the shared meal, the reconnecting with friends and family, the hearing carols on the radio, the hot chocolate after tobogganing.

And yet, each year as Christmas rolls around again, we focus once again on the presents.

Interest in finding new ways to celebrate the holidays was evident by the enthusiastic attendance at the Conservation Society’s Earth Friendly Christmas event at Scout Island Nature Centre last Sunday. Activities included wreath making, crafts and gifts made from recycled materials and a recycled gift exchange. Lunch was provided, supported by the Cariboo Growers and made from local foods. It was a free, low-stress, family friendly day that returned to the essence of the holiday season.

If you feel it is time to reclaim your Christmas, first think about the things that are meaningful to you and build from there. Can you reduce the gift giving? If not, can you change the types of gifts and wrapping? No garbage options may include gift cards for local stores or services, such as massages, music lessons or yoga classes. Buying second hand is green, cheaper and fun — we have several second hand and antique stores in the Williams Lake area. Craft fairs offer unique products that keep your money in our local economy without excessive packaging. Homemade baking/jams/frozen meals will be much appreciated by busy families. Find a green way to wrap your gift — reused paper, gift bags, unused wallpaper — so you are not contributing to the 545,000 tonnes of wrapping waste.

Think of small changes you can make to be waste-free, such as using cloth napkins instead of paper. Make recycling your last option — reduce and reuse first.

For a smoother transition to new Christmas traditions, discuss it with those involved. Get suggestions from family/friends; some families now have agreements that gifts must be homemade, second hand or edible. Include your kids — this generation of kids is ecologically aware and will understand the need to reduce waste; after all, it is their future that we are affecting with our habits today.

For information on Waste Wise or Water Wise, contact CCCS at sustain@ccconserv.org or visit the website at www.cconserv.org.

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