Tag Archives: Zero Waste Christmas

10 Zero Waste Gifts for Kids

The global toy market has an estimated size of more than 87 billion U.S. dollars annually, of which about one quarter can be attributed to the North American marketThe average toy spend per child in Canada is $347 per year.

The average child in the developed world owns over 200 toys but only plays with 12 of them on average per day!

It is the season where often there is a giant toy purge in households to make room for a mountain of new toys. Maybe this year Santa and other gift givers can consider gifts that create more memories and experiences for kids. 

Here are 10 Zero Waste Gifts Suggestions for Kids

1. Give the gift of learning a new skill

Many communities offer classes and camps for kids for a variety of new skills such a rock climbing, music lessons, and art. Skills that help equip kids that develop creativity and self-reliance can help children be an active participant in Zero Waste households.

MakerKids empowers children to be creators, not just consumers. We equip kids with the tools and mindsets to be leaders and inventors.

Seams So Easy offers kids and teens sewing classes by beginning with a sleep-over kit and then they progress to their own creations.

Nutrition Bites kids’ cooking classes give you a rest and your kids a chance to lead a healthy life by being able to cook for themselves.

Home Depot offers free workshops for kids for woodworking projects.

2. Give a gift of a new experience

Kids love exploring and experiencing new things. Think of those wish list experiences or experiences that encourage bonding, self-awareness or knowledge. Perhaps it is a visit to a new place, a ticket to a hockey game or ticket to play

Vancouver Aquarium offers sleep-overs that give kids a chance to explore the Aquarium.

Neptune Theatre offers ticket packages for their performances.

Prairie Dog Central Railway  kids can be an engineer for a day on a train.

3. Give the gift of time together

Everyone loves special time together. It does not have to be expensive, it just means shutting off the cell phone and focusing on being together. Perhaps it is giving coupons for “dates” or special time.

4. Give a gift of fun with friends and family

Movie and skating passes can help kids to organize social outings with friends. Build a backyard hockey rink as a gift or go visit family.

5. Give a membership as gift

Memberships to museums, art galleries and non-profit organizations are a great way for kids to get involved with their communities or causes. Students can become members of Zero Waste Canada and this membership is a great gift for the environment and the student.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts  subscription gives special perks and access to exhibits.

Tool Library membership gives you access to Thousands of Tools for a loan period of 3 to 7 days. We have 4 membership options for individuals, please see the chart below. Combined memberships also offer access to the Sharing Depot, our Library of Things program. The Sharing Depot loans many more items you need just a few times per year including camping and sports equipment, board games, children’s toys and party supplies.

Thingery  membership gives access to lending library of things.

Surfrider Canada membership shows you care about our oceans.

6. Give a donation in lieu of gifts

Donate warm clothing to a homeless shelter or make a financial donation to a worthy cause in recipient’s name. Take a picture of what you donated or clip catalogue pictures to show donation as gift.

Plan Canada  give a goat because it is a way of improving the lives of children living in rural communities in developing countries.

Second Harvest   a donation that will help feed families and children.

Wildlife Rescue Association helps wildlife injured in wildfires.

Zero Waste Canada helps us expand our Zero Waste programs.

7. Pass down a gift

Pass down an object that has a special memory to you and share the memory. 

8. Give the gift of fixing

Give gifts for shoe repair or bike repair to encourage making things last. Perhaps give a coupon to help to repair special toys. iFixit has guides for fixing a variety of toys.

9. Give a previously loved toy or game a new home

Shop for gently used toys from second-hand and thrift shops. 

10. Give a gift of Zero Waste books

A zero waste holiday season can be a family affair. The more people you get involved, the more fun and creative it can be.

Think outside of the box this holiday season while going for zero waste!

Christmas Plan Not To Waste

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.

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

The 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.

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.