Reducing Your Stumbling Holiday Eco-Footprint

Contributed by Louis Papa

And so it goes, another season of holiday cheer and merriment is upon us. A time of year when we're usually allowed to be generous and happy and full of eggnog for no good reason at all. A time of year when random co-workers get incredibly drunk at corporate functions and end up sleeping with each other, giving the people in their office something to talk about for months afterwards. Oh yes, let there be joy!

But seriously though, it's also a time of year that includes an incredible amount of waste. From everything from trees to gift wrapping paper to food and electricity, we do our fair share in leaving a big mess for mother nature to clean up afterwards. (Or the City of Toronto.)

Of course, one of the more common eco-issues surrounding the holidays is the Real Tree vs. Fake Tree problem, (if your holidays include one, of course.) The debate includes knowing about tree farms, the downside of how fake trees are made, the vacuuming nightmare of cleaning up needles, cost issues, fire hazards, and/or having space to store a fake tree after the season vs. tossing a real one to the curb. I say whatever. Whether you do or don't use/need a tree, a much simpler initiative to tackle is one we can all get behind no matter what we're celebrating, which is our holiday booze and the containers they come in.

Now obviously the holidays would be nothing without a little boozy goodness. (Apologies to al those whose holidays do not include it.) For me, watching uncle Freddy singing and doing a little salsa dancing all by himself in the middle of the living room, and hearing grandma clear out the kitchen by talking about her sex life after her 3rd milk and brandy - makes December just fun, fun, fun.

But along with all the good times comes a lot of empty bottles; empty bottles that end up in the recycling bin. (Which is okay.) But if you're like me and want to do something better, make an effort to take part in the bagitback program and take your more than usual holiday empties to a Beer Store near you when all is said and done. Each year apparently '80 million alcohol bottles, cans and containers end up in Ontario landfills.' So by bypassing the landfill, you'll be doing the city a small service and getting some money back to boot. It might even get you started doing it year round.

Aside from that, other small ways to help out in minimizing your eco-holidays footprint include reusing last year's wrapping and/or re-gifting the whole package entirely, (don't pretend like you haven't done it,) and whiting out last year's invitations and Christmas cards and reusing them, which will also go a long way. I'm pretty sure David Miller and City Hall are doing it right now as we speak.

Photo by William Self

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