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12 Days of Low-Waste Holiday Tips: how to celebrate eco-friendly, Covid-safe holidays – Part Two

This is the second part of our “12 Days of low-waste holiday tips on how to celebrate eco-friendly, Covid-safe holidays”. Find the first part here. Read below for more tips on how to celebrate the holiday season in a way that produces less waste and that is considerate of Covid19 restrictions.

7. Download Recycle Coach and learn to recycle correctly

You’ve been taught to recycle, but have you been recycling correctly? It matters more that you put items in the correct bin than to simply toss everything. Tossing everything in hopes that it will be recycled at the recycling facility is wish-cycling. Wish-cycling harms your and everyone’s efforts to recycle; when you put the incorrect items in the recycling bin, you risk contaminating recyclables. This means that what may be sent to the recycling facility to be made into new items will be sent to the landfill instead.

The long-term issue with contaminating recyclables in the recycling bin? The recycling process includes transporting waste to the recycling facility. This transportation costs municipal governments money. The cost is based on the volume of waste. Having to truck waste from the recycling facility to the landfill doubles the cost for your local government. Eventually, if the contamination rate is so high that it outweighs the money made by the government from manufacturers, municipalities may partially or fully shut down its recycling facility – leaving you without a recycling program.

Sorry to start the second half of our low-waste holiday tips with something so dire, but drastic consequences are felt when we continuously recycle incorrectly. It’s time to act.

The solution isn’t to memorize how your locality recycles each and every item. It’s as easy as downloading the Recycle Coach app and using the ‘what goes where’ tool to make sure you’re recycling each item correctly based on your local rules.

8. Use what you already have

This rule applies not just during the holidays, but every day. For those with a resolution to be more eco-friendly or pursue a low or zero-waste lifestyle this new year, “use what you already have” is a golden rule.

Buying sustainable alternatives and disposing of the unused items you still have contradicts the rationale behind a low or zero-waste lifestyle.

  • If you have rolls of paper towels at home, use them up before buying reusable fabric ‘un-paper towels’.
  • Purchasing second-hand bowls to serve your New Year’s feast when you have perfectly good bowls that you now throw out is also wasteful.
  • Buying a live Christmas tree so you can trash your plastic one is wasteful and contradicts the goal.

Use what you have, until it’s no longer usable, then make the leap to sustainable alternatives.

9. Ditch the balloons and pick up your pots and pans

If your family or ethnic culture is one that involves making lots of noise on New Year’s Eve, ditch the balloon popping and one-time poppers and pick up pots and pans. Clanging pan lids can be a funny and loud way to start the new year, after all.

10. Host a regifting exchange within your household

It’s safest to stay indoors with your household members anyway, so why not get reacquainted with your house and belongings and rewrap those gifts that have been given to you but haven’t seen much use? Regifting gets a bad rep, but it’s the ultimate way to stay low-waste while giving someone in your household an item that may be useful to them even if it hasn’t been useful to you.

11. Repeat outfits

One fun or stressful consideration we usually have to make around holiday parties or winter sales is our outfits! The good news is you likely weren’t seen outside that much in 2020, and your 2019 outfits are now a year old. Repeat your holiday outfits, and get used to the idea that that’s okay!

12. Choose “invest” over “instant” in everything you purchase

An item with a higher price tag but a higher quality will outlast a cheaper item made with cheaper materials.For those who care about fashion, look into building a capsule wardrobe.

Refurnishing your home? Even online marketplaces like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace offers a plethora of home wares, furniture, and materials that can be high-end in quality but lower in price since they’re pre-loved and second-hand.

It takes time and sometimes a little more money, but investing in quality items will save you in the long-term.

Covid-19 made the past year difficult for many. This year, we hope everyone can start anew with fervour and perspective on what matters. Savor what you already have and reuse a little more. For those that must be recycled, please recycle correctly. Happy new year!

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