The holiday countdown is on! We all have our favourite traditions for this special time of year, but between the packaging, wrapping, decorations, and food, there is also a lot of waste that comes with feeling festive. This December, let’s find purpose and empowerment in our purchasing power and ensure that we’re voting for a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable world. After all, every dollar spent is a vote for the kind of world you want. Below we’ll share some tried and true methods for keeping waste-free through the holidays.
Experiences > Things
Our family has a tradition of gifting each other memorable experiences for the holidays – travel, concert tickets, restaurant vouchers, massage certificates, cooking classes, and flying lessons. If you have a craft, share it; we have loved homemade gifts like knitted scarves, framed photography, secret-recipe peppermint bark and brittle, and hand poured candles. Gifting experiences is a great option for kids in your life as well. Stand out among the pile of plastic toys by taking them to a show or helping them to learn a new skill or game. These memories survive next year’s fad.
Ditch the packaging by shopping local and from small businesses
Packaging is the single largest application of plastics; almost half of plastic globally is for single-use packaging. It’s bad for your wallet too; on average, 10% of the retail price you pay for any product is for the cost of its packaging. We are literally paying for trash.
Instead of big box stores and Amazon, shop at a local holiday market and BYO bag. Etsy is also a great place to find unique gifts from small business owners, and you can direct message to request plastic-free shipping. With some online retailers, you can pre-order and opt for in-store pickup.
“Buy less, choose well, make it last” – Vivienne Westwood
Fast fashion is a dirty business. The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world–second only to oil. People are buying more and keeping it for less time than ever before. The production practices and output volumes of fast fashion are staggering and come with really big shortcuts, like genetically modified cotton and pesticides, forced labor and dangerous working conditions, dumping of chemical dyes and overfilling landfills. Opt for natural, breathable fibres like organic cotton and linen, hemp, jute, wool, silk, and bamboo. Team up with other friends or family to share the cost of a well-made, durable item.
Instead of single-use wrapping paper that is usually packaged in plastic, get creative with wrapping gifts in a scarf or other spare cloth. Save gift bags throughout the year to re-use. Try stamping, drawing or painting to spruce up newspaper and paper grocery bags.
There never seems to be enough time to prepare for the holidays, but there are many easy ways to make the season special and sustainable. When in doubt, we choose to slow down and remember what the holidays are really about: reflecting, relaxing and spending time with loved ones. Cheers to you and yours!
Publisher’s Note: Kaylin and Mackenzie Marcotte are the co-founders of Project PlastICK, a 30-day challenge to live plastic-free by shifting habits and finding sustainable alternatives. Mackenzie is a DC-based sustainability consultant, agriculture writer, and cyclist. Kaylin is a New York-based marketing and social media consultant, and an avid traveler.