With the bustle of the holidays already upon us and with an ever growing to-do list, it can be daunting to think about things like sustainability, let alone adding it to your list. But greening your holidays is easier than you think, and a whole lot more creative. Who doesn’t want to be more creative?

Have you ever thought of using an old map as wrapping paper? Or, making bows from clean potato chip bags? What about cradling fragile items for shipping in real (unbuttered) compostable popcorn instead of foam peanuts?

Did you know that in Canada the annual waste from gift-wrap and shopping bags equals about 545,000 tonnes? I sure didn’t. I was shocked at the amount of waste our beloved traditions produces.

It definitely got me thinking.

Making simple changes can make a big difference in terms of reducing waste, conserving energy, and even saving money. Cha-ching! If everyone in Canada wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks, not that we’d want to cover hockey rinks, but as Canadians who love hockey we know how big a rink is. That’s a lot of paper saved.

I always tackle things with a go-big or go-home attitude. Despite the best of intentions, with something as expansive as sustainability, I usually end up ‘going home’. So this year I’ve decided to make a few easy changes, and once these new behaviours become habit I’ll add to my inventory of eco-practices.

I love the idea of a live tree. But we already have an artificial tree, which we’ve had for about 8 years. I’m determined to wear it ragged before we dispose of it, and then we’ll choose the more eco-friendly live tree option. As well, I still have lots of wrapping paper in my supply closet, so for this year I’ll let it live up to its potential and intended purpose, but will save the Christmas cards and wrap we receive in a craft box for Meebs to use to make new cards or works of art. Who knows, the world’s next great masterpiece may be created from repurposed Christmas wrap.

So, what am I doing this year? The main change I’m making is practicing awareness. Being very deliberate in the choices I make with regards to gift shopping, wrapping, and entertaining.

I won’t buy any new rolls of wrapping paper, ever. When I run out I’ll be using newsprint comics or things like new tea towels to wrap gifts, and I definitely want to try making ribbon from chip bags. Plus, it gives me a sustainable reason to eat chips!

I also won’t be writing or mailing Christmas cards this year. I’m taking cover even as I type this. I’m not trying to Scrooge my way out of the hand-cramping task; in general I dislike greeting cards, and I just feel it is one tradition that should be retired. Though the gesture may come from a genuine place, you might change your mind about sending them if you knew that Canadian’s exchange more than 2 billion Christmas cards each year, which works out to be hundreds of thousands of trees logged for a single-use, non essential purpose. And, according to a recent survey, most of them end up in the recycling bin immediately after they’re opened. Plus, that’s not even taking into consideration the greenhouses gas emissions produced to transport those cards, often by plane and then delivery truck.

This year the Meebs’ are creating a Christmas Greetings video. For those without an internet connection, which are very few, I’ll call on Christmas morning. Stay tuned for our upcoming jingly greetings.

The actions I’m choosing to focus on this year involve minimizing holiday waste generation by moving beyond recycling to reuse and reduce. But this doesn’t mean losing out on the spirit of Christmas and the Holidays. If anything my family, friends and I will feel better knowing we’re helping to protect the Earth. At first they may think I’m kooky (what else is new?), but after a while they will understand, even admire, and maybe join my commitment to making ours a greener Christmas.

 So please join the Meebs clan this year and make a new family tradition to enjoy a low-waste, climate-friendly Christmas. Let’s create memories, not garbage!

Click here for more ideas on ways to green your Christmas.  Because it’s a comprehensive list, there’s sure to be one or two ideas you can use without much effort.