Christmas brings new ways to incorporate green thinking into our traditions. This year, get creative and consider the environment when decorating, buying presents, or planning for social events. Here are some ideas that are great for the environment and our budgets around the holidays.
1. Fabric gift wrap
Wrapping with single-use paper, bows, and strings takes a toll on our environment after the holiday season. Bows and strings are not recyclable, and neither is foil wrapping paper (the metallic stuff). Luckily, here at Quinte Waste Solutions, we are able to recycle wrapping paper. However, a new fad is circulating this Christmas that is worth trying for some gifts: wrapping with fabric!
Instead of buying new fabric, head to your nearest thrift store. I recently picked up two Christmas themed table cloths from the Salvation Army in Belleville, located at 295 Pinnacle Street. For $2 a piece, each table cloth is big enough to wrap four gifts. Thinking to the years ahead and all the times these wraps can be reused, the cost is cheaper than paper wrap: especially in the long term.
Plus, think of the nostalgia when seeing the charming patterns every year. Another frequent thrift store find is fabric drawstring bags. I’ve found half a dozen from various thrift stores from Belleville, Trenton, and Picton. These bags make great gift bags.
Click here for ideas on how to fold your fabric and make stunning gifts this year and for years to come.
2. Homemade bows from magazine cut outs
These look AMAZING! Collect old magazines from around your house, it’s time to get creative. You can pick the colour, size, and intricacy of the bow, matching it to the style of gift wrap. In addition to being a reused and reusable product, the cost is absolutely nothing but your time if you already have old magazines. If there aren’t any magazines laying around your house, old ones can be found at a wide variety of thrift stores. I received a colourful bundle from Belleville’s Thrift Store located at 393 Sidney Street.
For instructions to make the bows click here.
3. Avoiding Extra Food Container Waste
Throughout December, recycling truck drivers notice wooden clementine boxes at the the curb. These are not recyclable. Instead, wooden fruit boxes can be reused for creative storage ideas. Sometimes these fruit boxes can be made out of cardboard, and in that case, it is recyclable as long as it is folded and bundled with other cardboard boxes.
For many families, big dinners are a part of their Christmas tradition. Try to avoid using paper or styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery. If you do want to use paper plates for clean up ease, opt for paper plates that are not coated and then put those plates in the green bin for residents in Quinte West or Belleville.
4. Careful consumer: avoid non-recyclable packaging and wrappers
Being a thoughtful consumer is the first step in thinking green. When purchasing new items such as decorations, consider the longevity of the items. For many households, long standing traditions involve reusing decorations over and over for years to come; making them both cost effective with a lower negative impact on the environment.
When it comes to gifts, packaging can be a struggle. Many manufacturers do not create packaging that is easy to recycle. Whether a product can be recycled or not depends on the quality of the product and whether or not a company wants to reuse the product and process it into something new. Much of the plastic covering on toys, pens, and little trinkets is not recyclable. To make things more complicated, even if there is a little recycling symbol with a number in it, that doesn’t always indicate that the item is recyclable. Please look for the following numbers when recycling plastic packaging this Christmas: numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.
Remember candy wrappers are non-recyclable. The foil wrapping on many chocolates and holiday treats belong in the garbage. A solution to help avoid these treats is to focus on baked goods through the holiday season. Plus, we all know nothing beats homemade treats.
Lastly, consider waste free gifts, like planning a day trip to somewhere special. This especially works as a last minute gift idea that is focused around making memories instead of making waste.
5. Take your bottles back
This one is easy: collect all glass bottles from holiday drinks and bring them back to the Beer Store and LCBO to get your refund. This is the most efficient way to recycle glass. Deposit return is meant to enhance the blue box program, allowing for glass to be recycled and reused at the source instead of moving through the Material Recovery Facility at Quinte Waste Solutions, where it has the potential to get broken. Glass is heavy and it takes up a lot of space because it can’t be condensed without breaking, taking up valuable space in your blue box and in the recycling truck. By returning the bottles to the source, this space becomes available to recycle other products like aluminum or plastics!
Glass is a great item because it is infinitely recyclable. The Ontario Bottle Deposit Return aims to help us protect our environment by recycling glass bottles with ease.
Click here for more information on Ontario’s Bottle Deposit Return program!