Canada is too good to waste : 150 Zero Waste Tips

imgp4285Canada is just too good to waste

Canada is just too good to waste. Canada is big, bountiful and beautiful nation is turning 150 this year. All over the country there are celebrations of our history, our achievements our culture and our people.

Canada is creating way too much trash as well as consuming resources like they will last forever. As we celebrate Canada turning 150, we must also look towards the future and take steps to keep Canada beautiful and healthy.

Here are 150 Zero Waste tips to help you celebrate Canada every day by having a Zero Waste lifestyle.

150 Zero Waste Tips

1.       Drink tap water

2.       Use a reusable coffee cup at home, events, on-the-go, business and school

3.       Repair and refinish well-worn furniture

4.       Rent formal or special occasion wear

5.       Donate your old eyeglasses to service groups that forward them to people in need

6.       Replace disposable alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries

7.       Make coffee with reusable coffee filters

8.       Maximize the life of appliances by doing routine maintenance

9.       Donate hearing aids to service groups that forward them to people in need

10.   Borrow instead of buy

11.   Break the paper towel habit instead use clothes

12.   Make your mattresses last by turning and reversing end to end twice a year

13.   Eat leftovers

14.   Share leftovers with friends and neighbours

15.   Take your own shopping bags to the market

16.   Carry a cloth hankerchief  for blowing nose

17.   Use cloth napkins at home and on- the –go

18.   Use cloth diapers

19.   Only buy items in packaging that you can recycle

20.   Use non-disposable feminine hygiene products

21.   Consider an electric razor or a straight razor for shaving

22.   Use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling

23.   Do your best to stop junk mail

24.   Buy e-books, unless it is a reference book you will use away from internet

25.   Purchase online magazine or newspaper subscriptions instead of paper copies

26.   Resist buying items that are packaged in single servings like coffee pods, granola bars and candy

27.   Return egg cartons and berry cartons to farm gate sales or farmers markets

28.   Pack a Zero waste lunch for school or work

29.   Store or carry foods in reusable wraps or containers. Mason jars, beeswax wraps and reusable glass or stainless steel or silicone containers reduce plastic wrap waste

30.   Say no to straws when ordering drinks

31.   Label children’s clothing, school supplies and other belongings that might find their way into school lost and found

32.    Have a swap meet or party to exchange children’s clothing, books and toys

33.   Start or use a toy library to borrow games and toys

34.   Choose loose fruits and vegetables instead of  packaged

35.   Shop at local farmers’ markets or farm gate sales to support local food that has less packaging

36.   Fill up on grains, cereals, nuts and other kitchen staples at the bulk bin. Be sure to bring your own containers or bags from home when purchasing items

37.   Grown your own food. Salad vegetables and herbs can be grown in gardens or window sills or in containers on a balcony.

38.   Instead of buying toxic cleaning products use vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda to do household cleaning tasks.

39.   Stop buying plastic garbage bags. Line your garbage bins with paper or biodegradable bags.

40.   Swap your synthetic sponge for a cotton cloth or use natural loofahs.

41.   Buy wine with cork stoppers. After using wine compost, recycle or use corks for crafts.

42.   Resist single-use coffee pods.

43.   Avoid cosmetic products with microbeads.

44.   Try to buy soaps and shampoos that come in solid bars without packaging.

45.   Cut down on unnecessary washing of fleece products and nylon, acrylic and polyester textiles that may cause micro fiber pollution.

46.   Invest in a refillable lighter or use matches.

47.   Burn candles or use essential oils or lavender from the garden instead of air fresheners in plastic holders.

48.   Buy candy that has foil wrap or no wrapping from the bulk food bins. Make sure you recycle the foil it you are eating chocolate kisses.

49.   Carry reusable utensils and straws. Consider keeping a kit in the car, briefcase, suitcase and purse for those unplanned events.

50.   When ordering pizza say no to the plastic package saver in the middle of the pizza box.

51.   Give up chewing gum.

52.   By –pass the frozen food section as most of the packaging cannot be recycled.

53.   Use your own reusable produce bags or don’t put stuff in bags.

54.   Read the labels of products and resist toxic or polluting ingredients

55.   Use soap instead of saving cream

56.   Avoid non-stick cookware

57.   Bring your own headphones or ear plugs on planes instead of using plastic packaged headphones offered by airline.

58.   Resist the mini bar in the hotel room. Instead bring your own healthy snacks in less packaging.

59.   Shop at thrift stores. If you need something new to you shop second hand.

60.   Learn to make basic clothing repairs like sewing buttons.

61.   Ask charities and thrift stores what they can use before donating or leaving items

62.   Make sure items donated to charities are reusable. It is best to think of acceptable donations as gently-worn and in good repair items. Do not donate garbage or use a thrift store as a dumping site

63.   Take responsibility for what you buy. It is your responsibility to recycle or dispose of properly and pay any costs of discarding or recycling.

64.   Before you buy something, ask yourself do you really need it and how long will you use it?

65.   Buy products that are durable and built to last.

66.   Research products, brands and items you would like to purchase before buying. Think environmental impact, is there recycling or take-back programs , repair programs, what do other consumers say about quality and function are some of the questions you may want answered.

67.   Shop the refrigerator before shopping the supermarket. Use food at home before buying more.

68.   Rotate food in cupboards and refrigerator so that you use older stock first.

69.   Designate one meal weekly as a use it up meal.

70.   Ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant if you cannot finish meal. Carry your own container if possible.

71.   If meals portions are too large at restaurants split dishes with your companion.

72.   Do not heap the plate at buffets, you can always return for more if you are still hungry.

73.   Freeze or preserve surplus produce from the garden.

74.   Forget about perfection. Buy misshapen fruits and vegetables.

75.   Donate safe and nutritious foods to food banks and food rescue programs. Remember they also need money to operate programs.

76.   Learn what you have in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer that could act as a substitute or alternative ingredient instead of buying new products for one use.

77.   Opt for electronic communication from banks and utilities instead of receiving paper bills and statements.

78.   Save vegetable peelings to make vegetable stock.

79.   Use a shopping list and stick to it.

80.   Learn how to store food properly as well as how long food lasts.

81.   Use your freezer to extend life of food.

82.   Plan meals by first taking inventory of current food stock. Also plan meals that may have use up food.

83.   Don’t dish out massive plates of food. There can always be second helpings.

84.   Offer guests “doggy bags” for unfinished meals or leftovers.

85.   Ditch the dryer sheets instead use wool dryer balls.

86.   Rent dishes and glasses for large events or mix and match using what you have

87.   Resist releasing inflated balloons to float away as they create litter and are a hazard to wildlife.

88.   Use over-ripe fruit to make smoothies

89.   Don’t assume you need to buy in mass quantities or larger sizes. Buy what you need and can use.

90.   Learn to re-portion food. Divide bread, meat and other products into manageable servings and freeze what you are not using immediately.

91.   Buy products with recycled content.

92.   If you don’t like to wash soiled diapers use a diaper service.

93.   Feed animals like chickens and pigs food scraps.

94.   Buy salads and fruit from salad bar if you only use small portions

95.   Handle produce with care at supermarkets. Don’t squeeze or drop what you do not buy.

96.   Return frozen goods, meat and produce to appropriate shelves in supermarket or give to staff if you change your mind while shopping. Don’t leave perishable products in aisles to be found.

97.   Understand the difference between best before and expiration dates on food labels.

98.   Do not open packages in stores unless you have permission from shop keeper or you are buying product.

99.   Keep a pantry and refrigerator inventory list so you know what you have at a glance.

100.       Encourage waste-free lunches for schools and promote students take home uneaten food.

101.       Do not sell potato chips, candy bars or bottled water at schools or government buildings.

102.       Simplify and minimize. Do you really need more that one kind of shampoo?

103.       Use and buy products that are refillable

104.       Reduce gift giving instead give the gift of togetherness and time

105.       Get crafty and learn how to upcycle and repurpose objects to give them a new life

106.       Read the manuals for appliances and use as directed. Follow care and maintenance guidelines.

107.       Invest in quality instead of quantity.

108.       Brew bones. Use bones to create broth or stocks for cooking.

109.       Sell the things you no longer want in garage sales, consignment stores or online sites.

110.       Take your shoes and hand bag for repair to a shoe repair business to extend life.

111.       Take your broken items to a Repair Cafe

112.       Use recycling Apps to learn about recycling opportunities in your area

113.       Rotate tires

114.       Learn and calculate how much paint you need. One gallon of paint covers an area of about 400sq.ft.

115.       Refuse promotional materials as they often are not good quality or they have little reuse demand. Refuse the cups, bags and other junk.

116.       Cut down on washing clothes instead wash when they are actually dirty.

117.       Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline clutter and waste.

118.       Beware of greenwashing, always question and research

119.       Vote with your dollars for sustainable products.

120.       Repurpose and upcycling instead of buying gift wrap. Wrap with materials that can be reused or recycled.

121.       Support your local seamstress or tailor by having clothing repaired.

122.       Pick up litter when you find it and dispose of it properly even when it is someone else’s.

123.       Ditch plastic q-tips for plastic-free or compostable.

124.       Thank and support with your dollars restaurants and supermarkets and businesses that support and accommodate your Zero Waste lifestyle. Leave a tip for the waitress that brings the drink sans straw.

125.       Feed the soil by composting at home.

126.       Slow down and enjoy the food experience. Make food preparation, eating and clean-up a relaxed family social routine

127.       Reduce fast food. Bring your own containers if grabbing a burger.

128.       Learn to make do with what you have.

129.       Buy binders second hand and recover.

130.       Learn a new craft or skill.

131.       Don’t be afraid to ask. Kindly ask local stores if you could use your own containers. Work with your local businesses and support them to making zero Waste changes.

132.       Make it easy for coffee take-out or bulk food stores to fill your containers by marking container weight or how many ounces cups hold on your cups and containers.

133.       Support start-ups who are launching Zero Waste products, services or businesses on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter

134.       Make your compost and recycling bins more accessible that your garbage can

135.       Reduce the size of your garbage cans

136.       Stop smoking .

137.       Ask your local shops to carry Zero Waste products and make sure you buy them.

138.       Use a vacuum cleaner with reusable bags.

139.       Don’t dump garden waste in vacant lots. Invasive plants are a problem across Canada.

140.       Use an air popper instead of buying microwave popcorn.

141.       Donate to a charity instead of exchanging gifts.

142.       Send email invitations and greeting.

143.       Just because you get a big…you don’t need to fill it. Just because you get a large garbage can or recycling or compost bin does not mean that you have to fill it. Remember that you are using and discarding resources. That big dinner plate you don’t have to fill either. Use only what you really need.

144.       Compost your food scraps at home. There are lots of options for apartments, multi-dwelling, homes, and bear country available.

145.       Learn what recycling, disposal and compost options are available in your community and learn the items that are accepted. Do not assume you know. “Wishful” recycling cases lots of contamination.

146.       Learn the Zero Waste hierarchy and start by REDUCING.

147.       Do not want for government to save the planet. Everyone must create solutions and act.

148.       Start a Zero Waste Business.

149.       Do a waste audit in your home or office. Waste is about making bad choices.

150.       It is going to take effort but we each can make changes in our behaviours and actions to help create a Zero waste world. We just need to keep trying and learning as we go. Be mindful.

Saponettit.Ca – the future is about refill

Saponetti.Ca soap delivery
Saponetti.Ca soap delivery

For us the future is all about refill.

Greening our cleaning is a mandate of most of us choosing a Zero Waste lifestyle, this week Zero Waste Canada interviews Saponetti.Ca, the soap refill delivery service on Toronto Ontario.

Owner Nikki von Seydlitz explains how Saponentti.Ca offers both convenience and less packaging.

How did you decide to start a soap delivery service In Toronto?

 Saponetti is the result of a search for a solution to our own personal conundrum about all the empty containers we were tossing into the blue bin after only a single use. With refill options in Toronto being almost non-existent we realized that were probably not alone and that a lot of people would likely refill their soap and other cleaning product containers if it were easy and convenient. This impulse was the beginning of the process that lead my husband and I to offer this service.

 

Can you tell us about the products you offer? Are they made in Canada?

The product lines we carry are made here in Canada by suppliers who are focused on creating products that are environmentally friendly and safe for health and home. Soaps and detergents for all your homecare needs area available fragrance-free as well as scented with essential oils and organic ingredients. Recently we added shower gel as an intro into personal care essentials and we plan to expand our inventory offering as we grow our business.

 

Does your company have a mandate on what products you carry?

It is important that our suppliers share our vision for a more sustainable future so in that way we are selective. The companies we work with do things differently because they are more conscious of the impact their activities have on the environment as well as their communities. We love that by working with smaller manufacturers we are able connect with the humanity behind the brand.

 

How do the products you offer help folks to reduce waste?

Refilling completely eliminates the cycle of plastic waste.

 

As a company that offers refills for cleaning and personal care do you have any challenges for standardized measurements using mason jars?

We have simplified our refill process by offering all our refill products in either 500ml & 1L mason jars so we don’t need to be concerned about matching the volume of the original product package. Refill is a type of bulk purchase which means better value for our customers.

 

When products come in packages is all the packaging recyclable?

Yes, all our packaging is recyclable.

 

As an entrepreneur launching a small company did you have a marketing strategy to find your niche?

Because we started in our local community we targeted our neighborhood first with postcards delivered door-to-door and also left in local coffee shops and retail outlets introducing our service. From there news spread via word of mouth. Everyone uses soap but our target market is essentially “millennial mom” so we are working to develop our social media strategy to connect with our customers where they hang out. Also, we are participating in local events to connect with members of our community who are already thinking like us.

 

Several of the small businesses Zero Waste Canada has interviewed have benefitted from small business incubators or mentorship programs, did you have any support for your start-up?

So far, we haven’t benefited from any of these programs however we are definitely doing our homework and connecting with the community networks and various programs that could be a good fit to take our business to the next level.

 

Who is your customer base? Have you encountered any specific demographics?

Essentially anyone who is concerned about their environmental footprint fits our customer profile however we are finding that millennials and especially millennial moms are most interested in this service.

 

Your company also helps businesses to “green” their cleaning, do you find that offices, restaurants and other businesses have a desire to use more earth-friendly products with less packaging?

Offices and other businesses are responding to employee and customer attitudes regarding environmental awareness. Businesses with sustainability policies in place are looking for innovative and simple ways to green their operations and refilling essentials like dish soap and hand soap not only eliminates waste but is cost effective as well.

 

What kind of vehicle do you use to deliver soap?

Because our clients order typically once per month or even every couple of months the volume of deliveries is still manageable enough for us to be able to use our own vehicle. At the end of this month we will be updating our Jetta wagon to a hybrid vehicle so we can minimize our emissions while making deliveries. We are also in conversation with a local eco-friendly delivery service that uses electric cars and bicycles as another way to increase our service area.

 

If a person fills out the on-line delivery form when will they receive delivery?

Currently we tell our clients 5-7 business days to fulfill an order but typically we respond within 3-5 days.

 

Do you have a regular clientele that use your service?

Happily, yes!

 

As a “milkman” style of delivery do you feel that have more interaction with your customers?

Definitely! When we develop new client relationships people often share how thrilled they are about the service we are offering and we get to connect with them on a more personal level allowing us to learn more about their needs and how we can develop our business to meet those needs.

 

What did you do before Saponetti Inc.?

My background is in interior design but recently I have been involved in commercial project with a primary focus on managing the projects LEED requirements in order to qualify for green building certification. I am actually just finishing up a project now and will be full-time with Saponetti in the next few weeks. Christian, my husband and business partner, is working as a graphic designer in an ad agency by day and dives into Saponetti business evenings and weekends. We will be ramping up our operations over the next few months and hope to be able to develop our client base so that we can both commit 100% of our time to this business.

 

What are your dreams for Saponetti Inc.?

We want to change the way people buy everyday household staples. Our dream is to grow Saponetti and develop delivery networks with electric vehicles across southern Ontario and beyond. For us the future is all about refill.nikki-at-warehouse_150dpi

 

More and more entrepreneurs are realizing the creating Zero Waste solutions can grow business opportunity and have a positive impact. Zero Waste Canada will continue to feature the efforts of Canadians making a difference.

Saponetti.Ca has a website and facebook page.

Our Material Selves; We Are Over-Stuffed

clutter-360058_640Forget the Christmas turkey; we are the ones who are over-stuffed. Our lives, homes, bodies, businesses, shops, backyards are filled with stuff. We are part of a tsunami of consumption. As we drown in the masses of objects and products we bring into our lives we fail to see the environmental impact of the resources we are using.

The earth’s natural resources are finite, which means if we use them continuously we will exhaust them. Evidence is that at the present rate of growth in their use, we are near peak extraction for many sources of energy and materials. Peak oil has had the most attention. No one knows whether we are at peak oil now, or within another decade or so, but it does not have an infinite horizon. Peak does not mean that we run completely out. It means that we can no longer extract at an increasing rate. After hitting peak, the annual draw of any virgin material cannot support continued growth in its use. Indeed, assuming two percent annual growth in use, even iron ore will hit a peak within 50 years.

The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we need to grow food are all impacted by our desire for stuff, but we continue to accumulate and to make room for more or newer stuff we dispose of stuff.

Author James Wallman , Stuffocation: Living More With Less (2015, Penguin), writes that Western countries are “stuffocating” under the weight of our possessions, he writes that we have more possessions than we need or use, and this stuff is not only cluttering our lives but it is stressing us.. it might even be killing us.

Many of us can relate to the feeling that James Wallman writes about, ““Stuffocation is that feeling you get when you look in your bulging wardrobe and can’t find a thing to wear; when you have to fight through piles of stuff you don’t use to find the thing you need, and when someone gives you a present and your gut reaction isn’t ‘thank you,’ but ‘what on earth makes you think I could possibly want or need that pointless piece of stuff?’

James Wallman is promoting The Experience Revolution to help people be happier by nudging them less stuff and more experiences. He believes that individuals, businesses and governments have a part in this revolution.

Do we really have too much stuff? Yes. Everything from shoes , toys and just stuff. We have lots of stuff. Imagine the average American household is filled with over 300,000 things.

With all these things you may wonder if there is room for actual living. U.C.L.A. researchers tackled the question of when does all the things stuffing our homes become too much. The anthropologists were given access to 32 “ordinary” middleclass families to document how they lived. The study produced the book, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors” and a web series called “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance”

Consumerism is not new in our culture but many factors have created the hyper consumerism we see today. “The Empire of Things : How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth to The Twenty-First” by Frank Trentmann documents the history of consumerism as he writes of the many reasons that our society is moving faster with consumption accompanying the faster pace. As The Program Director for The Culture of Consumption project , a program the consisted of 26 projects that looked at the changing dynamics of consumption, past and present, and the implications for the future. Included in the programs presentations was a short overview of 4 ½ Lessons About Consumption

Frank Trentmann ,Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London believes we can learn from history and that history can prove how we can create change. His lecture recorded at The London School of Economics and Political Science is well worth listening to.

There may be no silver bullet to save the day, but we can all work harder at changing our habits and behaviours. We can learn to reduce and support others to change. We can become more mindful of the impact of our material selves.

 

Christmas Plan Not To Waste

xmas- under the tree

Santa’s bag of goodies need not create your bag of trash.

Household waste can increase more than 25% in the holiday season. This Christmas season take action to prevent and reduce waste. Take a few moments from shopping or thinking of dancing sugar plums to develop a Christmas Zero Waste Action Plan. The reason for the plan is to organize your household and activities so that it is easy to take the necessary actions to reduce waste.

Consider these tips to help you with your Zero Waste Action Plan.

  1. RETHINK CHRISTMAS: One of the greatest gifts that we can give to all inhabitants of the world is to conserve resources for the future and to reduce the impact of our environmental footprint. By adopting a Zero Waste approach in our own lives we not only give a gift of a better future but we save animals, soil and air. Sometimes we confuse trying to create an abundance of joy with an abundance of stuff.   Plan to reduce consumption and increase interaction with family, friends or community. Remember that Christmas is about the traditions not the stuff.
  2. K.I.S.S.: Christmas is not perfect and it is not a competition. The principle of K.I.S.S (keep it simple Santa) is good working principle when organising decorating, gift-giving and food.  The reward for trying to compete for “best and biggest” or competing with Martha Stewart or the Jones to produce the most extravagant Christmas is unnecessary stress and usually lots of waste.
  3. MINDFUL SHOPPING: Before acquiring more stuff, ask yourself if you really need it. Consider renting, borrowing or sharing equipment and products you may have limited use for. Being mindful of what kind of products we bring into our lives is the best way to avoid generating waste afterwards.
  4. TAKE STOCK: What do you have in the cupboards and refrigerator that needs used? Incorporate the food items that need to be used in your holiday menu and find recipes that use ingredients that you have on hand. Before going out to buy the spice, check if you have it.
  5. Set a budget for Christmas expenditure and stick to it.
  6. Plan your shopping trips and stick to a list of planned purchases.
  7. Learn what you can about the recycling, composting, reuse, and garbage programs in your community. Many communities have websites and apps to with useful information about what materials can be recycled and composted. Follow the program rules .Avoid bringing products into your life that cannot be recycled or composted or reused in your community.
  8. Have discard management plan. Have recycling, compost and garbage containers labelled and ready and where they are needed. Instead of that big black garbage bag after present unwrapping have containers to separate reuse and repurpose, recyclables and waste. Contamination in recycling and compost is a real problem for community programs at Christmas.
  9. Enlist a cleanup team. Make clean up part of the celebration as socializing can still happen as you put leftovers away. This is a great time for kids to teach adults about recycling and adults to teach kids about reducing food waste.
  10. Plan your menu and be realistic about portion sizes. When planning on how much food is needed take into account if guests have been snacking, children, picky eaters and variety of items and total amount of food served (do you need to subtract some portions) If you are not sure of how much food will be required, check out this handy serving calculator on the LOVE FOOD Hate Waste site http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portions/everyday. When planning menu think about storage and leftovers. Have a plan to use leftovers
  11. Have storage containers ready for leftovers. Use your freezer as a lifeline to rescue leftovers for another time.
  12. Give doggy bags to guests who may not finish meals.
  13. Share leftovers with someone who did not have a Christmas dinner.
  14. Avoid single use items like plastic utensils, and paper plates instead opt instead for cloth napkins, cutlery and china. Do not be afraid to mix and match or borrow.

 

Organizing your celebrations with a Zero Waste Action Plan will cut out stress, waste and save both time and money.

 

 

Christmas Leftover Recipe

 

We would like to share this recipe from Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun Food and Science beat writer, science reporter for TV’s Empowered Health, Green Man Blogger, author of Grow What You Eat. Eat What You Grow.Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow

 

Turkey and Stars Soup

(Recipe from Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow, courtesy Randy Shore Arsenal Press)

Boxing Day soup is how Darcy and I turn Christmas Day’s frenzy of feasting into a next-day cleanse. It also puts to immediate use the large pot of turkey stock we cooked we cooked after dinner the night before. The kids prefer this soup with star-shaped semolina noodles called stelline, but any small semolina pasts will work. However, our kids beg for Turkey and Stars and yours will, too.

 

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cups (500ml) diced onions

2 cups (500ml) diced carrots

2 cups (500ml) diced celery

2 tsp kosher salt

1tsp fresh ground pepper

1tsp fresh thyme leaves

½ cup (125ml) pinot grigio

12 cups (3L) turkey stock

11/4 cups (250g) stelline pasta

1 cup (250ml) diced green beans

3 cups (750ml) cubed leftover turkey

Parsley for garnish

In a large soup pot on medium low heat, add olive oil, carrots, celery, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir occasionally until softened, about five minutes. Add wine and reduce for 3 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and add the pasta stirring continuously for about one minute to prevent sticking, then simmer 10 minutes. Taste stock and adjust seasoning. Add green beans and turkey, simmer another 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with a turkey sandwich. Make 8 servings

 

 

Rethink Christmas : Traditions not Stuff

cookie-1832175_640The Christmas spirit is about the traditions not the stuff.

Christmas is coming, one of the largest celebrations that takes place around the world. . In the course of the season’s festivities we sometimes confuse creating an abundance of joy with creating an abundance of stuff. We need to create the feelings of abundance without all the consumption and all the waste.

Many of us are thinking about our Christmas celebrations. Our thoughts may be about food, gifts, shopping, travel, finance, family and the memories of Christmas past.   Zero Waste Canada asks you to RETHINK CHRISTMAS. This year create the spirit of Christmas with traditions instead of stuff.

Many of us would have difficulty listing gifts we received last year or the year before but we remember the interactions of with loved ones and friends, and the shared experiences. Remember the experiences and traditions that made past Christmas celebrations memorable. Traditions and rituals can be very simple like Dad making breakfast on Christmas morning or the family decorating the tree or the after-dinner walk.

Ellen Galinsky, cofounder of The Families and Work Institute describes a survey in which she asked children what they would remember most about their childhood. The majority of the kids talked about simple everyday family dinners, holiday get-togethers, and bedtime stories.

Christmas traditions and rituals do not have to be restricted to families.   For those who may find themselves alone, it is about redefining traditions and giving the gift of self-love. Perhaps Christmas dinner becomes the potluck gathering at the church or community hall.

Creating traditions and rituals is not about perfection.  Rethinking expectations can relieve the pressure of celebrating Christmas. Keep it simple and think about giving kindness to yourself and others.

Remember that traditions and rituals can change and adapt to life changes.

Traditions and rituals can provide a source of self-identity, and strengthen bonds between family, friends and community. Creating traditions and rituals can offer comfort and security. Values can be imparted and reinforced with traditions and rituals.

Traditions are not really about the stuff but the action or experience. Christmas traditions and rituals are about producing the outcome of peace, love and acceptance.

A paper published in the Journal of Happiness Studies by researchers Tim Kasser of Knox College and Kennon M. Sheldon of the University of Missouri-Columbia. After studying the Christmas experiences of 117 individuals, they found that people who emphasized time spent with families and meaningful religious or spiritual activities had merrier Christmases.

Zero Waste Canada asks you to RETHINK Christmas. Think less about giving stuff and more about the traditions and rituals that create the Christmas feeling.

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10 Zero Waste Christmas tradition shares

  1. Sing. Sing to yourself or go caroling. “We try to carol to widows or those we know are alone for the holidays. Some of the older people we’ve caroled to have told us they remember people caroling when they were children.”
  2. Decorate a tree. If you don’t have a tree maybe decorate a branch outdoors with homemade bird treats .Or volunteer to help decorate a tree at a hospital or seniors’ home. Donate your time and decoration to brighten another person’s Christmas.
  3. Share a Christmas meal with family or friends (new or old).  Save and share any leftovers.
  4. Take a walk to look at the wonders of the world around you. Perhaps you look at Christmas lights, trees, the beach or interesting buildings but you are looking and exploring.
  5. Express yourself creatively. Make a snowman, write a poem or make a craft with recycled materials.
  6. Reminisce: Share family history or stories.
  7. Pose for a picture and share the picture via email or social media with family and friends.
  8. Revisit your childhood by playing childhood board games, or watching favourite movies or reading favourite books. Board games and movies and books can often be borrowed from libraries.
  9. Take part.  Go to a Christmas event or church service .Volunteer at a Christmas charity or event.
  10. Surprise. Surprise someone with an act of kindness.