It's time to 'rethink gift-giving,' says Recycling Council of BC

Avoid the holiday waste with these tips

With the holiday season inevitably comes gift-giving and, ultimately, a lot of waste. 

To help hold back that tide of plastic decorations, burned-out Christmas lights and the kind of presents that go straight to the thrift store, the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) is calling on British Columbians to rethink how they give with some new, greener traditions.

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“Canadians already understand the importance of a healthy environment but sometimes we forget that our everyday actions add to the impact,” said RCBC CEO Brock Macdonald in a press release.

“Small changes add up to big results. If everyone in Canada wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or reusable gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover every hockey rink in Canada.”

Macdonald suggests creating personalized gift certificates that offer a favour or experience rather than a consumer product. One gift certificate could count for a home-cooked meal or a night of babysitting, another for an afternoon of canning or an evening of babysitting. 

Try bringing the bookworm in your life to a writer’s festival or workshop; take them to a local theatre adaptation of their favourite novel, he suggests.


Inspector Sydney Willmott looks for banned materials at the Coquitlam Transfer Station. Many items,
Inspector Sydney Willmott looks for banned materials at the Coquitlam Transfer Station. Many items, from throw-away décor to cellophane wrapping paper to gifts themselves end up in the landfill. - STEFAN LABBÉ/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

If you plan to give a gift, Macdonald suggests wrapping it in tea towels, scarves or even a backpack. Are you set on gift wrapping? Opt for paper, said Macdonald, as cellophane and metallic foils can’t be recycled.

And accumulating waste extends well beyond gift; the RCBC says hooking up a timer to your Christmas lights can reduce energy consumption by 30% to 50%. As well, try decorating your home with zero-waste décor such as acorns or cedar and pine branches.

And the old debate over whether to buy a plastic, reusable tree or opt for the real thing? 

There’s a third way: live potted trees.

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