The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a wasteful one. Did you know that the amount of garbage* collected in Edmonton during the two weeks after December 25 is twice the average winter amount?
At the City of Edmonton Reuse Centre, we’re committed to helping Edmontonians reduce waste through reuse. Don’t let waste put a damper on your holiday spirit! Here is a list of 8 ways to reduce your holiday waste through reuse. It’s good for the environment, and saves you money!
1) Wrap gifts with leftover paper
Giftwrap is a billion dollar industry – all for something we throw away with hardly a glance. This year, try using leftover paper from around your home instead. Newspaper works great, and so do those pages of computer paper you never meant to print. For a more festive look, jazz it up with markers, paint, or stamps! This is a great way to get kids involved in the wrapping process.
2) Wrap gifts with fabric
Why not make the wrapping part of the gift? Tea towels, scarves, handkerchiefs, and shawls are all great gifts…that can be used to wrap other gifts! Lengths of plain or holiday printed fabric also make for great wrapping ‘paper’ that can be reused again and again. The Japanese call this practice “furoshiki” and have been practicing it for thousands of years.
3) Save bows, gift bags, and tissue paper
Wrapping paper often gets ripped in the excitement of opening a gift, but bows, bags, and tissue paper are usually still in great condition after being used. Save and reuse them as many times as you can. You can also donate these items to the Reuse Centre, year round.
4) Make gift tags out of used cards
This is one of our favourite holiday reuse ideas. It’s quick, simple, and a great way to get a little more out of used cards.
At the end of the holiday season, cut the images from the fronts of your holiday cards, where the back is blank. Punch a hole to thread a little ribbon or string through, and in just a few minutes, you’ve got a nice little pile of gift tags to use next year.
Don’t forget to recycle the rest of the card!
5) Reuse your decorations
It’s tempting to go a little overboard at the holidays, when shop windows are fully of shining, sparkly new decorations…but do you really need another ceramic snowman?
Before you buy anything new, put out the decorations you already own. Chances are there’s more in that storage closet than you thought! If you do decide to add to your decoration stash, try visiting your local secondhand shop before heading to the big box stores. Not only will you find a treasure trove of unique and vintage items, but secondhand stores often get brand new items, donated as overstock from stores.
6) Have a decoration swap
Okay, so you’ve had the same wreath for the last million years. It’s still in great shape, but you’re getting a little sick of it. Swap it!
Gather your friends together and have everyone bring along the holiday décor they’re ready to part with. Crank the carols, bring out the snacks, and spend a fun evening trading your holiday items.
7) Host a reuse gift exchange
Instead of buying new gifts for your office or family gift exchange, have everyone give a nice, “regiftable” item from home. Candles, figurines, books, movies, we’ve all got things in our homes that we never use. Why not pass them along to a friend instead of buying something new?
8) DIY your décor
There are so many great ideas for beautiful holiday crafts online, using items from around the home. Make a pickle jar snowglobe, a light bulb santa, or a puzzle piece candy cane.
A quick internet search for “reuse holiday crafts” will bring up literally thousands of results! Most of them are so easy, even a child (or a non-crafty adult) could do them!
There are so many ways to reduce the amount of waste we create during the holidays, and these are just a few of them.
Share your ideas in the comments, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WasteLessHolidays!
*Compared to average weekly winter amount. Based on data collected by at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre during the 2014/2015 holiday season.