GREEN SPACE: Have yourself a sustainable little Christmas

The holidays are a difficult time to act sustainably, but I challenge you to try to reduce your waste and consumption this year.

Household waste can increase more than 25 per cent during the Christmas season, according to Zero Waste Canada. The holidays are meant to be a time for sharing love, not presents. This year, my family will be working to significantly reduce our waste, by exchanging no presents at all. We will also be going on a hiking/skiing trip into the backcountry on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to reconnect with the beauty of natural British Columbia.

Although this attempt to reduce is extreme, there are many things ordinary people can do to limit holiday excesses.

One of the problems with this joyful season is the consumerist mentality encompassing it. I encourage each of you to adapt to a new principle, buying only a few meaningful and experiential gifts or those adhering to a reduced-waste lifestyle. Try buying mesh produce bags, shampoo and conditioner bars, reusable mugs and water bottles, metal straws, a car kit of reusable to-go containers or other products that promote multi-use, waste-free consumption. These products are reasonably priced, and they will be utilized for far longer than the average Christmas present. When you buy your friends and family gifts like this, it helps set them on a path to reducing waste.

Gift wrapping is also important. According to Zero Waste Canada, Canadians send about 540,000 tonnes of gift wrap and gift bags to the landfill each holiday season. Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled because of the dyes and glitter on it or the tape attached. Instead of these single-use materials, try using Christmas cloth bags, paper grocery bags, newspaper, or at the very least, recyclable, brown, un-dyed wrapping paper. Make ribbons out of pieces of colourful old clothes to decorate your gifts! It looks just as lovely with an added simple, environmental touch that will spark a conversation on zero-waste initiatives on Christmas morning.

But what type of tree should these zero-waste presents be placed under? A typical six-foot-five-inch plastic fake tree produces 40 kg of CO2 in its petroleum-based material combined with its production, packaging and transportation. But is a real tree any better?

The climate crisis makes every tree valuable in reducing carbon in the air. For this reason, my family purchased a sapling pine tree in a pot that we will reuse for many years as it grows in our backyard during the off-season, and best of all, it will have a negative carbon footprint. If you do decide to cut down a tree, decisions about where to purchase and dispose of it are also significant.

Make sure to buy from a local tree farm, as supermarket trees are typically wrapped in plastic netting and transported long distances. In terms of disposal, if a natural tree is sent to landfill, it will produce 16 kg of CO2 per year and, over a few years, CO2 emissions will exceed that of a fake tree.

By contrast, if you take your real tree to the annual White Rock Fire Fighters Tree Chip, typically held on the first weekend of January at Centennial Park, your tree will have a “negligible or negative carbon footprint,” Carbon Trust proclaims. A local real tree, potted or chipped is the most sustainable option.

This is my family’s first year truly considering sustainability in our celebrations. While you may not take on all of these initiatives, it helps to be conscious of every choice you make and its impact on our environment.

Miranda Clark is a Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She writes monthly on ways to reduce waste and minimize our environmental footprint.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One to hospital after truck shears power pole in North Surrey

Approximately 500 BC Hydro customers without power

Elgin Park Secondary dry-grad fundraisers planned

‘Dine Out’ coupon book, parent’s night aim to raise funds for year-end festivities

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

ICBC had 32,412 Dial-a-Claim calls from Lower Mainland

This was in a 17-day stretch from Jan. 3 to Jan. 19, inclusive

VIDEO: Fire closes 16th Avenue between 248th and 256th Streets in South Langley

Crews are on scene and are asking commuters to use an alternate route

Meng extradition case back in court for second day on double criminality test

Meng is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with an Iran-based subsidiary

Canada to ratify new NAFTA next week following U.S. Senate approval: Trudeau

Trudeau says millions of Canadians depend on stable, reliable trade

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Most Read

l -->