Friday, December 23, 2011

Last minute Christmas tips

1.    On Christmas morning, sort wrapping as you go, creating piles for trash, recyclables and reusable ribbon, bags and paper. Tuck them away for next year.

2.    Remember that wrapping paper is not recyclable. Choose reusable bags instead and save them from year to year.

3.    Cardboard boxes and packaging, as long as they’re not soiled or waxed, can be recycled. Some boxes might be worth saving to reuse at another time. Flatten the boxes you’re going to recycle for easy storage.

4.    On rigid plastic packaging, look for the recycling symbol with a number in the middle. Any plastic with a number between 1 and 7 can go in the blue bins. They’re few and far between on children’s toys but it’s still worth checking.

5.    Don’t get lazy over the holidays when it comes to basic household recycling. Nuf said.

6.    Keep composting over the Holidays. If you’re hosting a gathering and using disposable plates, buy paper plates and toss them in the compost bin for an easy clean up.

7.    Do what you can to reduce food waste. Start with a small serving and go back for more if you’re still hungry.

8.    Compost your Christmas tree. Many communities offer a tree mulching service for easy Christmas clean up.

9.    Save Christmas cards and use them to make gift tags next year.

10.   Bask in all that is wonderful about the Holiday Season and share your joy with others.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas tree debate -- choose real over fake

Just because an artificial tree is reusable doesn't mean it's environmentally preferable. It's the opposite, actually. Fake Christmas trees have a nasty carbon footprint due to the fact that they're made from petroleum products, usually manufactured in China where environmental regulations can be lax, and shipped half way around the world to reach your home. Artificial trees off-gas, polluting the air in your home, and can't be recycled or composted. Real trees, on the other hand, come from sustainably-managed local forests (in my neck of the woods anyway) and are compostable. Choosing a real tree is one more way to buy local over the Holidays.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thoughtful gift ideas

Remember the excitement you had as a child during the lead up to Christmas? All you had to do was wait for it to arrive. Not that waiting was easy, but it was thrilling. Fast forward to adulthood and December is often a blur of shopping, cooking and decorating. It’s busy, sometimes stressful and less than thrilling for many.  

To put your Holiday challenges in perspective, the CBC radio program The Current recently aired a show about poverty in Canada and asked listeners to share their personal experiences. One of the stories that stood out was from a mother who, strapped for cash, can’t buy her children gifts. To make up for it she focuses on giving them her time, love and attention. “What you can’t give them in one way you have to make up for in other ways,” she said. Her young children (also interviewed) were grounded, thoughtful and wise beyond their years.  

Her comment made me wonder what some people who do receive loads of gifts (kids in particular) might be missing out on. It also reminded me of a recent chat I had with a friend who said she wished her young daughter’s grandparents would give her daughter time instead of stuff, an afternoon outing together rather than a toy.  

Gift giving can really be so simple. 

Thinking outside of the box (literally) for holiday giving is one way to add more meaning to the Season and giving non-traditional gifts is memorable and meaningful in ways that are especially appropriate for this thoughtful season.  

If you still have gifts to buy (and who doesn’t) or if youd like to begin a new tradition, consider these worthwhile causes.   

Do Good Today is a Saint John-based organization focused on reducing poverty in Saint John, and supports eight local organizations that are working to reduce poverty in our area. Links on this site simplify the giving process, and let you choose to give time, money, or both, to the Boys and Girls Club, the Resource Centre for Youth, P.R.O. Kids, First Steps Housing Project and others.  

The CBC Saint John annual Harbour Lights Campaign is another initiative that makes it easy to give to many organizations in one shot. The campaign supports food banks from St. Stephen to Sussex so your donation can reach more people throughout our region. CBC is taking donations right up until December 23 so there is still time to give, if you haven’t already.  

Nature Conservancy Canada has “packaged” wildlife habitat to give as gifts, in an effort to raise funds, and awareness, for the habitat crunch threatening many of our native species.

World Wildlife Fund – Canada offers endangered animal “adoptions” and a special initiative to help protect polar bears and their habitats whereby Coca-Cola will match your donation dollar for dollar. Adoption orders must be received by December 18 to guarantee arrival in time for Christmas.

I wish you an abundance of the simple pleasures that Christmas brings.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How do you wrap a reindeer?

Give symbolic gifts of nature this Christmas, and help protect the habitat of caribou, owls, bears, lynx and more. Gifts range from $40 to $400. Visit the Nature Conservancy Canada site for details.

Every Gift of Canadian Nature includes:
  • An eco-friendly colour calendar featuring landscapes from across Canada - a daily reminder of your support of these wild places or a wonderful holiday gift to give to a friend to enjoy.
  • A special gift certificate to personalize.
  • A letter from NCC President and CEO, John Lounds, informing your gift recipient that a donation has been made on their behalf to protect Canadian wildlife habitat