Lockdown’s green effect on the holiday celebrations

How COVID restrictions could reduce household waste over the holidays


It feels like it was just the start of the year 2020, and now we are already approaching its final month. Because of the threat posed by COVID-19, many luxuries involving socialization have been restricted or cancelled. However, that’s not to say that COVID-19 hasn’t yielded some, if very few, positive changes.

For one, it has actually benefited the world’s air quality. Air pollution levels have measurably dropped in parts of Canada, and throughout Europe and China, since governments began enforcing restrictions and lockdowns. Los Angeles, which is known for heavy traffic volume, has decreased their primary air pollutant, Nitrogen Oxide, by 27.5 per cent.

While climate change and global warming are still important topics to consider, the restrictions imposed by the government means that there will be fewer parties with large numbers of people. This could cause a decline in the amount of waste produced during the holidays.

According to a study by Waste Reduction Week in Canada, the amount of waste which is placed into landfills increases by 25 per cent during the holidays. Almost half-a-million tons of waste from holiday celebrations, like wrapping paper, packaging, and shopping bags, wind up in Canadian landfills. That could all change with restrictions on social gatherings during the holidays.

However, that’s not to say that waste being produced by the holidays will entirely cease, but it will be reduced. Often, large parties are thrown in many households for Christmas. We’ve all witnessed them, and no matter the size of the party, waste will ensue.

Not only will party restrictions and large gatherings help cut down holiday-related waste, but it will also encourage sustainability in Canadian homes. Since there will be less mouths to feed, less food will need to be prepared or thrown out, and fewer presents will need to be wrapped.

In terms of parties, hosting events online would be a fun alternative to stop the spread of COVID-19 and encourage goodwill and holiday cheer. There could even be family events where people gather together online, with spiked eggnogs in hand, to celebrate. Playing trivia games through these online events can help spice things up as well.

The restriction of parties can also be a cost-cutting measure for a lot of families. With parties restricted, there is no need to go out and buy tons of food and supplies to cater towards a crowd of relatives and friends — you just need to buy the materials that you and your household will require.

There is also the matter of food waste and leftovers too. On more than one occasion, my family has been able to salvage almost three whole dinners after the initial holiday meal.

It will be rough adjusting to the lack of family gatherings and socializing during the holidays, but if that means not subjecting your loved ones to this damned virus, and helping the world, then it’s a small sacrifice to make.