Yep, we've barely had time to eat a piece or two of Halloween candy before the stores are rolling out the Christmas paraphernalia.
The next few weeks will be packed with advertising of all kinds, massive shopping sprees, preparation races...
As with all holidays, Christmas puts a huge burden on the environment, and overconsumption is more prevalent than ever.
There are ways of living this holiday more ecologically and serenely, while keeping the magic, even finding it again if we've lost it.
Maybe you're one of those people who try to minimize your ecological impact, maybe you're not. In any case, Eco Loco invites you to think about it and change a few things.
There are many behaviors to consider. From the Christmas tree, to lighting, gifts, wrapping, meal preparation, clothing...
The Christmas tree
Over the years, there have been many questions and debates about the best choice for a Christmas tree. Should it be artificial or natural? While plastic Christmas trees can be reused year after year, real trees are the most sustainable choice. A study by Ellipsos reveals that, unless you keep your artificial tree for at least twenty years, the natural tree is the option that generates the least greenhouse gas emissions.
Plastic trees are made from petroleum products and use resources for both manufacturing and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are generally discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfill sites, where their plastic content makes them last for centuries.
On the other hand, live trees grown in plantations are a renewable resource. They contribute to air quality as they grow, and almost 90% are reused as mulch. Live trees are generally grown and sold locally, saving both transport costs and air pollution.
However, natural trees are not without ecological impact. The environmental cost of a natural Christmas tree may seem high when you consider all the resources required to grow it: cutting, transporting, collecting and recycling the trees into mulch chips. Considering that the life cycle of a fir tree is 7 to 10 years, and that its use will be a few weeks at most, we can see that there is a significant price to pay for maintaining this tradition.
- Make your own fir tree from dead branches or birch prunings, for example.
- Use a potted conifer that can also be used as a houseplant or planted on your own property or in the forest.
- If you choose a cultivated fir, be sure to use the services of your community to have it transformed into mulch.
There was a time when fir trees were lit by candles. For obvious safety reasons, we're not going back there! Secondly, the house with the most Christmas lights was considered the "best". We need only recall the classic film The Christmas Tree to get an image of this. Fortunately, times have changed slightly. With the cost of electricity going well beyond the electricity bill, it's increasingly considered that our use of electricity affects our environment.
- Wait until December 1 to light up our home and experience the magic in focus.
- Use a timer to activate the lights from 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
- Reduce the quantity of lights used.
- Use smaller bulbs and make sure they're LED or solar-powered!
It's estimated that at Christmas, we double our amount of wrapping to 2kg per day/person. This increase comes from the colorful wrapping of gifts, but also from the wrapping of Christmas cards, forward calendars, purchased items, grocery shopping...
Half the paper consumed in the United States each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. Annual waste from gift wrapping and shopping bags totals over 4 million tonnes. In Canada, annual waste from gift wrapping and shopping bags amounts to around 545,000 tonnes.
- Always carry reusable bags when shopping.
- Opt for reusable gift bags.
- Opt for second-hand gifts that don't require new packaging.
- Create original, personalized packaging from reused fabrics, flyers, calendars and paper bags.
- Make your own personalized Christmas cards from recycled elements (e.g. last year's calendar).
- Avoid metallized wrapping paper, which is difficult to recycle.
- Use an attractive decorated metal or wooden box to give the impression of a double gift.
- When unwrapping gifts, make sure you have everything you need to sort the wrapping so that it can be reused or recycled
And here we touch a nerve for many. How many children have we come across who compare the number and size of their gifts? The first thing to really consider is reducing your purchases. Buy less and buy better. We agree that some gifts meet real needs and should be bought new. For the majority, however, there is food for thought.
Not all gifts are store-bought. There are a number of questions you can ask yourself before making your purchase:
- Is it a useful gift? Will it be used?
- Is it locally produced?
- Can you create or manufacture it yourself?
- Is it over-packaged?
- Does it come in a second-hand or recycled version?
- Does it encourage people to be active and move around?
- Could it be less polluting?
- Will it last?
- Offer services instead of goods (e.g. massage) ;
- Offer unforgettable experiences;
- Offer gifts that you make yourself;
- Offer second-hand gifts;
- Offer toys without batteries;
- Avoid plastic objects;
- Offer meals to share;
- Offer eco-responsible and reusable clothing or objects;
- Do a draw with the adults in your family to focus on just one gift per person: the rule could be either an object you already own and that the other person might like, or a homemade item, or to offer an eco-responsible discovery
Whether it's a Christmas party with friends, an office party or a family get-together, most of us like to look good for Christmas. Does that mean we have to spend hours running around shopping malls? Not at all. Most of us have more than enough in our wardrobe.
If we need to complete our wardrobe, it's much better to buy second-hand or eco-responsible clothes that can also be worn on other occasions or, in the best case scenario, on a daily basis. It's better to aim for timeless basics and match them with different accessories.
Although not exhaustive, the various elements mentioned in this text can certainly greatly change the impact of your Christmas festivities on the environment. It's certainly nothing grand when we take them separately, but it can seem like a lot when we take it as a whole.
With this in mind, we invite you right now to choose the elements (gift, wrapping, tree...) for which you want to bring about a transformation in your habits this year! One step at a time, one habit at a time!