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Waste less – a belated resolution?

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Added: Fri, 01/29/2016 - 10:37am
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In general, holidays are a time of excess – we eat too much, spend too much, and waste too much.
Christmas has always been the leading example of excessive waste; according to Zero Waste Canada, every person will throw away an average of 110 pounds of garbage during the holiday season and the average Canadian family will send up to 45% more waste to landfills. Much of this waste is gift wrap, wrapping supplies, and product packaging materials, but it also includes a large amount of food after turkey dinner leftovers lose their appeal. Other holidays – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. – though less drastic, also produce a fair amount
of waste.
Zero Waste Canada (ZWC), an
organization of waste activists and waste reduction professionals dedicated to achieving a sustainable economy,
advocates for ‘waste-less’ entertaining and celebrating, titled ‘Zero Waste Holidays’. Is this something we could
follow through with?
Getting into the Zero Waste holiday spirit doesn’t mean turning into an
obsessive recycler or going out of your way to locate special products at
environmentally-friendly stores. Simply committing to ‘Lower Waste holidays’, or ideally ‘Lower Waste Lifestyles’ would also be effective and make a difference. 
A lot of waste can be eliminated by
re-using, recycling, or better planning. If everyone in Canada wrapped just three presents in reused paper or gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks (ZWC). Gift bags can be
re-used, and once they have reached the end of their life, they can be recycled. Wrapping paper, cardboard packing, and cards can also be recycled. E-cards are also an environmentally-friendly option. 
Instead of trashing items to make room for new ones - which seems to be the reality for households with children – unwanted items can be donated to
organizations like the Salvation Army, Value Village, St. Jude’s Mission, etc., where they can find a new owner and be re-used.
Perfecting portions and planning meals to use up leftovers will reduce
the amount of wasted food, but when items do spoil, composting is another option. Up to 30% of the material we send to landfills is organic and could
be composted at home. It’s also a
money-saver for people who pay for each bag they dispose of.
Surely we could all commit to one
simple action to do our part to help the planet. If not every day, then what about just during holidays when waste
production peaks? Call it a belated
resolution!

Allyson Beauregard