12 tips for a greener Chrsitmas

Christmas Tree Recycling Sign

Tip 1: Buying a tree this year? The Ontario Farm Grown Christmas Trees history page states that bringing a tree into your home started as a reminder of nature when winter was at its darkest, the winter solstice. The purchase of something made of non-biodegradable plastic (the artificial Christmas tree) very much defeats the purpose of bringing nature into your home.

However, the Weather Channel has an article saying it didn’t matter which one you bought, because factors such as how far you drive to get the tree, how long you keep the artificial one and where the tree comes from are more important factors.

Find a local tree grower for your purchase and remember to recycle it at the end of the season.

Tip 2: Batteries contain toxic chemicals and are difficult to recycle. Think about looking for gifts that don’t require batteries. Toys that don’t need batteries are often less expensive and don’t break as easily.

Tip 3: On the topic of gifts, $466.3 million was spent on toys at large retailers in Canada in December 2011, as opposed to the average monthly sales of $153.1 million for the rest of the year.

Does your child absolutely need it? Or will it be exciting for 15 seconds?

Tip 4: You know you’re going shopping for more stuff that you can carry, so remember to take your reusable shopping bags. Don’t pick up the one-use, non-biodegradable variety.

Tip 5: When you get all those gifts you didn’t ask for, or get replacements for old possessions (like clothes or small appliances), remember to donate them to people who do need them.

Tip 6: Recycle wrapping paper, packaging and anything else that you plan to get out of your house. The Recycling Council of British Columbia has a useful tool on its home page that allows you to enter the item you are recycling and the area you live in and it tells you where and how to recycle it.

Tip 7: There are many ways to be more eco-friendly with your food consumption. Along with buying locally and from organic growers, eating the food you buy is a good start to becoming more green. This article in the Globe and Mail reveals how much food Canadians waste. It’s approximately 40 per cent of edible food. Don’t buy more food than you can eat.

Tip 8: When serving food, avoid using disposable paper and plastic plates, cups and cutlery.

Tip 9: Since everyone is coming over for those Christmas gatherings, and even if they’re not, turn down the thermostat. Make use of those ugly Christmas sweaters that have become so fashionable this year. When the family comes over, all that body heat will effectively warm up your all-of-a-sudden-too-small house.

Tip 10: Most candles are made from paraffin wax, which is made from petroleum residue and is bad for your health as well as for the environment. Set the mood by seeking out soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles instead, which are biodegradable.

Tip 11: Get creative with decorating. With Pinterest and other show-off – I mean sharing – sites, look for ideas on using scraps and waste household materials to make some of your Christmas decorations this year. When someone asks where you bought it, it feels awesome to take the credit.

Tip 12: Go for a walk, rather than plopping the family in front of a movie or TV Christmas special. Find out what your actual winter biodiversity is like.

Learn to tell the difference between cedar, pine and spruce trees. When you decorate with the intention of bringing the outdoors in, make sure the kids know that cardinals don’t live in B.C. and therefore it’s contradictory to that tradition, even if Mom’s colour scheme includes red. (Things that confused me as a child and that I would have liked to have known sooner.)

Photo by: sdminor81


Nature-lover, book nerd, potentially hazardous adrenaline junkie. I often wonder why? Completing my BA in Journalism and Creative Writing.


  • Sheetal Reddy
    Reply December 9, 2013

    Sheetal Reddy

    This was a helpful read, thanks Alex! I especially appreciate you linking to the “recyclepsdia,” because I’m the type of person to hang on to batteries to recycle later, and then end up throwing them out.

  • Danielle Himbeault
    Reply December 9, 2013

    Danielle Himbeault

    This was a great read. Even though my family likes to spoil one another with typical consumer goods, I’ve made it a habit of wrapping all my presents in the comics section from newspapers. I also have a group of friends that gifts each other “ethical for others” presents, which means I would help pay for the building of a well in Africa through the water project (www.thewaterproject.org) in a friends name, for example. There are no wasted batteries or wrapping paper, and we all feel really good about it too!

  • Avatar
    Reply December 9, 2013

    Ashley Ezart

    That was really useful to read! Pinterest is a really great resource for finding ideas to make for Christmas presents, and so is Etsy! Etsy even helps small businesses if you decide to buy rather than create what you see yourself. I really like the #9 as well. I have only turned out heat on once this year and we subsidize with warm blankets and hoodies! It saves money and it’s good for the environment! Really good idea for a seasonal story, so props for that, however watch your spelling. Merry ChrIStmas. :).

  • Avatar
    Reply December 10, 2013

    Daniela Carmona Gonzalez

    I wish I would have read this before I bought my tree! I bought an artificial 6 foot tree for $30 on craigslist. But you are certainly right, it does defeat the purpose of bringing nature into your home.

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