The holiday season is one of the most beautiful times of the year. You get to spend time with your friends and family, decorate a Christmas tree with a bright shiny star on the top, wrap thoughtful presents in your living room, and bake holiday-themed treats all while Michael Bublé’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” plays in the background and snow falls outside your window.
It is a sentimental time for many, but it is also one where we produce the most waste. Canadians produce more than 540,000 tonnes of waste a year during the holidays from gift wraps and bags to other decorative items we put on presents. The average family in Canada sends roughly 25 per cent more waste to landfills compared to the rest of the year, according to Zero Waste Canada.
However, don’t let these statistics worry you as there are ways to reduce waste during the holiday season. Here are some tricks and tips on what you can do differently this year.
Wrapping presents with festive paper can be cute, but also costly to the environment since it’s creating extra and unnecessary waste. When I wrap presents for my friends and family, I always use newspapers or brown paper from grocery store bags. These options are great to reduce waste and save money on a budget as students.
Collecting flyers is also a great alternative if newspapers aren’t accessible to you, as we always get them in the mail. I like to start collecting them when Black Friday sales start popping up, as that’s usually when flyers begin to peak in coming to your door. Flyers are great as they come in different sizes and colours, so it allows you to get creative in wrapping gifts. It also leaves an exciting story to tell.
In addition to being conscious of wrapping presents, it’s also important to know where you’re shopping from. Buying second-hand items is a great way to reduce waste and is often more affordable than buying brand new. But if you aren’t able to purchase second-hand, keeping an eye out for your Amazon or online packages is another thing to keep in mind this time of year.
Porch thefts have risen over the last two years, according to a recent FedEx survey. This year, 28 per cent of participants in the survey said they’ve had packages stolen in the past. Last year, 24 per cent said they had packages stolen, and 20 per cent in 2021. Seventy per cent of people who responded to the survey also worry about unattended packages being stolen after delivery, according to Global News.
Some ways to minimize porch thefts are to pick up your package outside as soon as it’s delivered if you can, asking the delivery company to send it to one of their pick-up locations instead of your address, or making sure a family member or roommate is home at the time of package delivery. Having the package delivered to their pick-up locations is one of the safest ways to avoid porch theft as it will already be sent to a safe place where the person picking it up has to show their delivery card and ID.
Another tip for the holidays is to budget your gift shopping. Spending hundreds of dollars on presents for your family and friends can be easy, but it will hurt your wallet in the long run.
Roughly 51 per cent of Canadians who shopped for the holidays last year accumulated credit card debt, with 25 per cent who still haven’t paid their bill. It can be hard to buy presents for people, especially when you have a lot of people to buy for. Make a budget for yourself on how much you can spend on each person as this will help manage your finances and not break the bank during Christmas.
A good rule of thumb I like to follow is to figure out how many people I am buying for and the maximum amount I can spend on presents. Then, I divide that by the number of people I want to buy for so I have a budget for each person.
While the holidays can be hectic, give yourself a break during the season as we finish up the semester with final assignments and exams. You deserve a break too, and remember to have fun during the holidays and spend it with the people you love.