‘Tis the season to begin to shop, prep and plan for the upcoming holidays. And while our own health is rarely on our minds during this time, it is important to incorporate solutions into your holiday routine that consider the health of our dear earth. Find here some options that you may not have thought about to make your holidays greener than The Grinch.
NOTE: All businesses listed are located in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada.
Dress Up In Sustainable Style
Fast fashion, defined as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass retailers in response to the latest fashion trends” is linked with an overabundance of clothing waste plaguing our landfills, as well as often comes at the cost of cheap child labour overseas. Needless to say, it’s not the best industry for you to spend your hard earned dollars in, but there are options that can help you keep clothing out of the garbage and vote against fast fashion with your dollar. If you’re looking to get fashionable options without buying new or breaking the bank, check out second-hand store Plato’s Closet for in-fashion like-new finds; they tend to only stock what’s in style that season. For classic vintage looks try Roly Poly Records & Vintage or Out of the Past. Or better yet, host a clothing swap with like-sized and like-fashion friends to ensure you get what you are looking for. I have a friend who has been doing this every year for the past four years and always ends up with great “new” options for her wardrobe without spending too much or supporting fast fashion.
Dealing With The Kiddos
The toy industry has taken the holidays by storm – think people being trampled on Black Friday for the latest and greatest Elmo evolution. And we all know that kids need the trendiest new toy out there; it has become a sort of status symbol amoungst classmates to brag about what gifts they get. Children’s clothing is definitely lumped into this too. I don’t have children, so my expertise on this is zero, but I know second-hand children’s clothing and toys are available at Value Village, Salvation Army, and Goodwill to name a few. My thoughts on this subject are that if we begin to teach children now about the positive impact they could have on the planet by forgoing the new for buying old favourites, we could create an even younger generation of kids that care about so much more than having new things and winning the holidays. Better yet we can buy children simple items and teach them to use their imaginations; or how about let’s teach the wee ones about the spirit of giving, and how to help the less fortunate? I mean I know this is all a challenge #becausekids, but any and all of the above suggestions are worth a shot.
How To Gift For The Planet
Regifting might be frowned upon. In fact, I know for a fact it is because I got caught regifting a blanket from my mother-in-law by my mother-in-law; talk about awkward. But how many fuzzy white blankets does one actually need before enough is enough? I think regifting is great and can feel really good. If you get something you know someone else would use more or love better or find joy in, why not regift it to them? Or better yet, maybe this year decide amoung the adults in your family to not gift at all…forgo presents for a group donation to a charity or the go-fund me page of a local family in need. Or spend that extra cash on a bigger, better dinner or fancier wine. Take the gifting out of the holidays and all you have left is each other, which is pretty awesome.
If gifts are a must consider how you’re gifting. Wrapping paper can make the tree look spectacular, but most wrapping isn’t recyclable because of the bright dyes and fancy finishes. Opt for craft paper and twine instead, or wrap presents in other presents; for example wrapping a toy in a sweatshirt for a zero-waste gift. My godparents used to save newspaper articles or comics throughout the year that they thought their friends and family would like, and use that to wrap gifts in. It was like its own present to discover what news they had saved for us. Gift cards are also a huge polluter, because they essentially all end up in the garbage. If giving gift cards, go with the email version that provides a barcode to be scanned in store from your smartphone.
Buying & Serving Local
Another green holiday tactic to save greenhouse gas emissions and support local makers is to stick to buying, gifting and serving local. Niagara has an amazing community of artists, makers and growers for you to choose from. From now until November 15th you can pick up The Niagara Shop Local Passport at participating retailers Bloom and Co., Craft Arts Market, The Post Office, Oliver and Rust and Garden City Essentials – collect a stamp and a free gift or discount from buying from each location, and be entered in a draw to win a grand prize ($250 value) with a full passport! Farmer’s Markets are also a great place to shop local gifts and local food, and St. Catharines, Welland and Niagara Falls markets are open year round.
The 11th annual Hand Made Market featuring exactly that will be at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls November 22—24th. Another option is to become a maker yourself; take a crafting class or food workshop to learn to create your own unique gifts that can not only impress your tribe and save you money, but can keep you out of busy shopping centres and away from big box stores.
Regardless of how you holiday or what you celebrate, learning to be more sustainable throughout the upcoming months during a time of overspending, overindulgence, and over-polluting will do your soul, your wallet, and your planet good.