Sustainable Tips for the Holidays

12 Days of YEG: Sustainability During the Holiday Season

Our #12DaysofYEG challenge continues and today we are focusing on how to bring sustainability into the holidays. This time of year, we tend to focus on family, gifting, and holiday traditions, among other things. It’s easy to become less focused on climate concerns and the sustainable practices that we usually maintain the rest of the year. Here are a few suggestions to make your giving season more friendly for our planet.

Wrapping Your Gifts

Did you know that the City of Edmonton receives double the amount of garbage in the last week of December? Did you also know that styrofoam and foil wrapping paper cannot go into recycling? Please remember to check the City guide on what can be recycled or better yet, follow these tips to reduce your overall waste:

  • Re-use gift wrap you already own from past years (and save the gift wrap you receive this year!), or re-use other paper materials, like newspaper. If that’s too boring, spice it up with extra decorations, like an origami bow.
  • Make it a game, so there is no need for gift wrap – the person receiving the gift can be blind folded, and you can make them guess what it is with their eyes still closed. Or, set up a scavenger hunt in the house with clues to the location of the gift. 
  • Make the wrapping part of the gift – a mason jar, a reusable bag, a scarf – look up furoshiki for tips on how to wrap a gift with cloth. 
Origami Bow

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Shopping locally helps keep money flowing in Edmonton’s economy, as well as supporting your neighbors and their livelihoods. But it also benefits the environment by saving on shipping. In our previous post, we shared why it’s better to shop local rather than choosing Amazon, even in a pandemic (especially in a pandemic).

If you’re shopping for a friend who is looking to be more sustainable in their day-to-day life, here are a few local retailers to help transition to a zero-waste lifestyle:

Shop Secondhand

Consider purchasing previously-loved goods rather than supporting the creation of new products and materials as a way to embrace a more environmentally friendly way of living. 

  • The Wee Book Inn has multiple locations and is a go-to favourite for locals to pick up used books
  • Chubby Fem Thrift is an online shop selling thrifted clothing in larger sizes (it is also Black, queer, trans owned)
  • More Than A Fad thrift store profits directly support Adeara Recovery Centre
  • Bissel Thrift Shop profits support Bissel Centre programming
  • Find Edmonton sells second hand furniture and housewares in support of housing-first solutions to end homelessness
  • The Peacock Boutique is run by the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society
  • Check out our post from May listing antique stores in Edmonton, many of which offer online shopping and curbside pickup.
  • Re-sellers have recently started filling in the gap between thrift stores and amazon – they do the shopping, cleaning, and styling and will usually deliver right to your door. Typically most popular on Instagram, our favourites include @foundforusplus, @endangeredthrift, and @sickjacket, among others.
Thrifting is a great way to be sustainable.

Make Your Own Gifts

  • Consider re-gifting something you own – a well loved book, for example, adds a personal touch. 
  • For those of you who started a co-victory garden in the spring and are now reaping the rewards, now is the time to gift your home made preserves, pickles, etc.
  • Use resources like the Edmonton Maker Space. Don’t want to commit to buying a sewing machine just to make a handkerchief? The library has it all. 

Give Experiences Over Things

For a truly waste-free gift idea, give an experience to a loved one. This could be something you purchase in advance, or an event of your own creation, but either way there are so many ways to include a local flair: 

  • Sign up for online classes or virtual workshops, or learn a new skill together
  • Try out a virtual cooking classes 
  • Sign up for a Native Studio Art class online
  • Buy a painting kit and set up a Bob Ross painting night over zoom. and paint little trees
  • Buy selected kits among a group of friends and do a tasting over zoom – you can try this with chocolate, wine, beer, etc. (stay tuned for a future post on local food & drink in Edmonton!)
  • Watch a live stream performance from local theatre (Did you know the Citadel is streaming a Christmas Carol this year?) Or check out the local music scene in Edmonton
  • Support Metro Cinema by accessing a virtual screening, or make a donation on behalf of a loved one to ensure a future for dozens of small film festivals and community screenings, as well as the beautiful 1940-built Garneau Theatre. Our post from May outlines more ways to support cinema in Edmonton
  • Purchase gift cards from your favourite local businesses to give you something to look forward to in the future while giving a holiday boost to these businesses
  • Make plans to spend time outdoors – Lookup a walking path in our beautiful river valley, visit the botanic garden, or get a membership to your local community league and support local skating rinks this year
  • Is someone on your list an avid festival-goer or volunteer? A donation to arts organizations in Edmonton will help ensure that our festivals can come back strong – a gift to anyone who has experienced the community connection and essential “YEG-ness” these gatherings bring to our local communities. 

What are your best tips to bring sustainability into the holidays? Do you have a favourite sustainable gift or second hand shop that we missed? Share using the hashtag #12DaysofYEG and you’ll be entered to win a prize pack of local gifts!