In Search of a Wasteless Holiday

[Editor's note: according to a report by the Recent Findings Institute, the holiday season is one of excess.  Over the next week, many many people will over indulge in food, drink, airing of grievances, and the procurement of stuff.  And while it's bad enough that such things happen on their own, it makes it worse when we learn things like the Canadian Food Bank is struggling to meet growing demand and, in British Columbia, one in three kids will rely on said Food Bank for their holiday meals. Speaking of holiday meals, while some struggle to feed themselves, others throw food away. Lots of it. In fact, by the end of 2010 North Americans will have thrown away over 40% of our food. Nearly one-third of North Americans knowingly over-extend themselves when it comes to making holiday purchases, too. When you put it all together, this does not make for a happy and healthy holiday recipe of community awesomeness. So, I reached out to one of the coolest people in our community for some people-and-planet-minded holiday solutions. Enjoy!]

We hijacked the following low-waste tips from my main man on Vancouver Island, Zac Whyte. Says Zac, “it’s easy to reduce your waste and stress levels this holiday season.” Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Buy your turkey from a local farmer.
  2. Have a gift-less holiday. Give money to your friend or family member’s favorite charity for them instead of buying presents. I’m a big fan of Kiva gift cards. They are a great way to learn about the world and perpetually create business opportunities for people.
  3. Give an experience like a gourmet meal cooked by you, a swim, skate or ski pass, yoga punch cards, music or yo-yo lessons, tattoos, or ninja magic classes to your favorite person. Do it together with them to triple your points.
  4. Plastic is the brussel sprout of the packaging world. Just because we can have it doesn’t mean we should – once a year is good enough, never is even better. Purchase products in glass instead of cans or plastic.
  5. Wrap your gifts in re-usable shopping bags.
  6. Eat more vegetables and compost the scraps. Eat less meat.
  7. Cut the greeting cards you received last year into gift tags. They work like a charm. Recycle the rest.
  8. Buy a real holiday tree from a tree farmer – it smells better than PVC. Have it chipped for charity by your local fire department after Boxing Day.
  9. Instead of decorating your house with commercially bought products start a tradition of creating your own each year.
  10. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible. It’s free, it’s good for the earth, and it’s fun… Happy Holidays!

Thanks, Zac. I’ll see you in the woods of the Comox Valley soon. We can meet next to the big tree.

Another thing that flashed across my screen the other day is the story of Mr.Narayanan Krishnan – a fantastic digital story of his community-service has been making the social media rounds for the past few weeks. Check it out:

The message from both of these fantastic updates is a pretty simple one: over the holidays, leave more than you take. The myriad prices we pay for the excesses of our lifestyle are already catching up to us, so perhaps a more concentrated sense of low-impact, community-minded simplicity is what we need around this time of year. Hey, it’s just an idea.

On behalf of the Daily Gumboot’s staff and community partners, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.

After all, experiences shared within a happy and healthy community are the greatest (and most reasonably priced) gift of all!