Sustainability over the Holidays

Sustainability over the Holidays
By Connor CB-Lamontagne

It’s that time of year again, the snow is beginning to fall (and melt again), university students are busy with final papers and projects, homeowners are getting ready for winter, and everyone is beginning to think about the holiday season (except for retailers, they started shortly before Hallowe’en).

With the holidays comes travel and food and holiday cheer, and stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. There are lots of things to think about at this time of year: what food to serve, what clothing to wear, what gifts to buy, and where to spend your time. All of these things can be done more sustainably with only a few changes, mostly to what you think about when you’re making plans for the holidays.

To start with: food. Food from the grocery is mostly extremely unsustainable. Meat comes from factory farms where live animals are treated like products to be turned over as quickly as possible. Vegetables, especially during our Canadian winter, are imported from international sources, California for example. However, the biggest problem is not that the food is grown or processed away. No, the biggest problem is that the food has to come from away, either by plane, train, or truck, creating considerable carbon emissions along the way. This is one of many reasons why local food is a better buy.

The next thing to think about when talking about sustainability is buying gifts. This isn’t definitive, there are always more points to think about, but when thinking about buying something, anything there are a few points to consider:

• How long will this last?
• Is it useful? Or, “Is there a reason to buy this?”
• Where did this come from?

These are some things to keep in mind when buying a gift. As gifts will inevitably create waste and have a carbon footprint, the consumer’s job is to minimize it. Along from gifts comes wrapping paper. Wrapping paper is great: it looks pretty, and you get to tear into it, and then the mess all goes away when you throw it out. Except it doesn’t. Wrapping paper is an entire industry devoted to making a product destined for the trash. Instead, look to use reusable bags, or even newspaper or anything similar which doesn’t need to be bought.

These are only a few very basic tips on a couple of limited subjects, but they should show that sustainability (to an extent) isn’t so hard to accomplish. If you’re interested in learning more about basic sustainability you can take a look at