Vicki, Lee, Liam and Austin Devos pick out a tree from the Bergerac Christmas Tree Farm on Sunday, Dec. 10.-image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer.

Dreaming of a green Christmas

Plenty of options to reduce your impact on the environment this season

This story was featured in the Winter 2019 Indulge magazine, delivered with your Peace Arch News on Friday, Nov. 15.

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In 2019, going “green” continues to be an increasing trend – the norm, even – as more and more hybrid and electric cars hit the road; efforts to compost, reuse and recycle mount; and more thought is given to the impact the choices we make can have on the world around us.

With Christmas now clearly in sight – both in stores and, for many, at home – the drive to tone down the commercialism and waste of special occasions in favour of a more meaningful, less (environmentally) impactful celebration also continues to gain traction.

So, just how difficult is it to go green for the holidays? A quick peek at a couple of websites will get the ball rolling.

‘Eco-cosy’ tips shared on bcgreencare.ca range from cutting down your own Christmas tree at a local tree farm, or – for those who live in smaller spaces – picking up a Norfolk Island pine for year-round use; to giving eco-friendly gifts such as gift certificates, transit passes or reusable water bottles.

Another green gift idea is that of companionship or service. These can also run the gamut, from committing to tackle a chore for a neighbour who has struggled to accomplish it themselves; to sharing a weekly meal with a senior – related or not – who could use the extra company; to signing up as a regular volunteer at an animal shelter, food bank or other organization that strives to do good work on a shoestring budget.

Metro Vancouver, meanwhile, offers a host of ways to “create memories, not garbage,” at www.metrovancouver.org

Noting that 30 per cent of what gets sent to the landfill every day is food, the regional district’s suggestions to reduce that particular form of waste include making a list of food you need for the holidays before shopping, then buying only what’s needed; and check your cupboards first, too, to make sure you’re not buying what you already have.

Also, buy food in bulk to reduce packaging; buy local; bring your own shopping bags; and, avoid shopping on an empty stomach. (The latter is something most of us have done before – and, just like indulging in that third slice of grandma’s Christmas fruitcake – almost always regret.)

Christmas dinner itself can also be eco-friendly, according to The Environmental Magazine. In addition to shopping local – which reduces the carbon footprint of your food – as Metro Vancouver suggests, emagazine.com says cooking methods such as grilling your ham outdoors will save energy, while going a step beyond and ditching meat from the meal altogether will help reduce pollution that results from meat-production processes.

Where gifts are concerned, Metro Vancouver encourages the use of reusable materials such as fabrics and newspaper for wrapping purposes, and re-gifting thoughtful items that were received in previous years, but, for whatever reason, never got used and have been sitting in a drawer or closet ever since.

“If you’re worried about giving a gift back to the gifter, keep a notepad in the drawer and jot down who gave it to you,” information on the regional district’s website recommends.

Giving the gift of experiences – ziplining, for example – is another less-waste idea.

While the options for going green this Christmas – or on any given day – are endless, the space in which to share them is not. So, in honour of an environmentally friendly holiday season, here’s a new, slightly extended take on the 1942 Christmas classic, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, to wrap things up.

First crooned by Bing Crosby, hopefully it will serve as a catchy reminder to think green.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

One where everyone thinks twice

With fewer disposables, and more decomposables,

Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

With every e-card that I write

May your days be trash-free and clean

And may all your Christmases be green

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

One with fewer incandescent lights

Where homemade gifties are super nifty

And bamboo straws make drinks just right

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

With every present that I wrap

May that old newspaper not be a waster

And trash bins not overflow with crap

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

One where everyone believes

May it be trash-free and way more clean

And may every day ahead be green

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