‘Tis the Season to be Sustainable

‘Tis the Season to be Sustainable

Imagine the holiday season as a field of freshly fallen snow. Then imagine what it’s like after a thousand people have walked all over it. Every footprint contributes to one big mess. Everything we do leaves an impression on this earth, so here’s an invitation to step lightly as you plan your holiday celebrations. 


Every excursion leaves a footprint; in the coming and going and the choices you make. 

  • Shop on your lunch break or after work when you are already near the shops. 

  • Take transit or carpool

  • Remember your reusable shopping bags

  • Avoid items with a temporary use, excess packaging and whenever possible, are made of plastic


  • Choose experiences over stuff

  • Not every gift needs to be new; check out thrift stores, re-gift or make or upcycle gifts

  • Spread the eco love with natural gifts or items that help others be more green minded

Wrap it Up

  • Choose glue or tie with wool, ribbon or string over plastic tape

  • Reuse wrapping paper bags and bows

  • Wrap a gift in a gift; in socks, glass jars or a tea towel

  • Avoid non-recyclable glitter, tinsel, foil or cellophane

  • Choose cloth ribbon over synthetic


  • Make a meal plan and only buy what you need

  • Be realistic about portions

  • Choose products in glass vs plastic jars

  • Pick package-free; Buy in bulk, bring bags for your produce

O Christmas Tree

Think twice about buying artificial trees and garlands. Many are made in overseas factories and often contain toxic PVS, lead and flame retardants. 

  • Look for a second-hand artificial tree to re-use

  • Buy a locally grown, pesticide-free tree

  • Buy a potted, living evergreen to plant after the holidays

Online vs In-store shopping

Which carries the lightest footprint? Tricky question. 

The answer depends partly on where goods are made. For example, and item shipped from another country travels far by ship or plane. Buying locally made is always the better choice. 

Worldwide, online shopping constitutes one out of seven purchases, nearly 15% of all shopping. 

That said there are advantages and disadvantages to both:


  • Online companies with no retail storefronts to power and maintain already have a lower footprint

  • Delivery services are efficient; it’s like putting everyone’s packages on one bus, rather than individual cars - unless they are rush deliveries


  • When customers can see, touch and try on merchandise, fewer returns are made 

  • Delivered goods come in their original packaging and delivery packaging

  • About 20% of online purchases are returned, doubling the delivery carbon footprint

  • Up to 60% of all first-time deliveries are unsuccessful and can take up to 3 attempts. If the buyer has to drive to pick up the package, all the carbon emissions savings are lost

Make Smarter Choices

  • Order online early and choose a longer delivery time. Overnight or rush deliveries result in individual deliveries in emptier trucks. 

  • Arrange a delivery time when you know you’ll be home or make arrangements with a neighbour

  • Buy locally made

  • Individuals driving to stores increases emissions; transit, walking or cycling are better choices

  • Buy less. The item not purchased online or in-store has the lowest footprint of all

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