As travellers, we're getting better at considering our impact when we take a trip, looking for ways to travel slower, to support local, and to reduce our waste. But back at home, we can sometimes lose track of our sustainability goals, particularly in the wake of a busy holiday season. To help, we've rounded up just a few simple ways you can create a more positive impact on your community and our environment this holiday season.
1 | Seek out locally-made goods
'Shop local' has become a popular initiative in the past few years, and we are certainly onboard. Whether you're seeking classic gifts, culinary goods, or experiences, sourcing local will help support small businesses while also reducing your footprint by avoiding long-haul shipping.
Check out the holiday craft markets and Farmer's Market in your area for one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, decorations and toys, and clothing. Opt to buy your favourite brands from a locally-owned shop. Visit your local bakery or butcher shop, or sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery to get the freshest treats for your holiday party.
In the quest for the most unique gifts for your loved ones, our favourite go-to is Indigenous arts and crafts. Intricate jewellery, elaborate carvings, beauty products and so much more - these goods tell a story from your region. They are typically made with local materials, and using methods passed down through generations. Be sure to do your research and find a reputable shop, like the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, the U'Mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, and the I-Hos Gallery in Courtenay (offers shipping).
Check out Destination Indigenous for similar gift ideas.
2 | Introduce more reusables
From gift wrap to party napkins, there are many ways you can make sustainable choices to reduce your waste this holiday season. To start, check that your wrapping paper and gift bags are made from recyclable paper, and avoid foil and glitter gift wrap which can't be recycled. Other creative options include wrapping gifts in fabric like scarves, packaging in jars or boxes, or reusing wrapping and tissue paper from last year. Just because it's sustainable doesn't mean it can't be pretty!
For ease at holiday parties, we too often turn to disposable napkins, plates and cutlery; but think of the amount of waste if ALL the households in your community were doing the same thing. Try to use cloth napkins and reusable tableware whenever possible. Buy wet-erase markers for guests to label their glasses, instead of using those pesky red cups. Where disposables are unavoidable, make sure the materials are 100% recyclable or compostable in your household bins. Check out Recycle BC's Holiday Recycling Guide for some useful tips.
And finally - don't forget that reusable mug when you head to the coffee shop for your candy cane hot chocolate. Taking these small steps can make a huge impact, while adding only a few minutes to your day.
3 | Donate to community charities
Supporting causes that matter to you can take many forms - whether it be donations of gifts or food to the local Food Bank, volunteering at a shoreline cleanup or community support program, or monetary donations. Every little bit helps, it's up to you to decide how and how much, and which causes align most with your values.
A great place to start is the Community Foundations of Canada, the national leadership organization for over 100 local community foundations in Canada. These Foundations focus on improving community wellbeing through long-term endowment funds and regular granting. Support is focused on the most pressing issues in the community - from health and social development to youth engagement, gender and equality, and environmental conservation. Many Foundations directly align with the Sustainable Development Goals, and provide opportunity to direct your donation to a specific cause or organization. Check out the Community Foundations of Canada website to find your local Foundation.
An issue on all of our minds this holiday season is the disastrous impacts from recent flooding in British Columbia. The Red Cross of Canada has established a specific fund to support relief, recovery, resiliency and risk reduction activities in affected regions. Visit their website to learn more and donate.
4 | Give the gift of experience
There is only one type of gift that is guaranteed not to collect dust or end up in the trash, and that is the gift of experience. Quality time, especially when experiencing something new and unique together, can foster deeper connections with our loved ones that will last well beyond the holiday season.
All it takes is a little creativity. Think about a sport that might be fun and challenging to try together, like sea kayaking or horseback riding. Maybe an activity where you can learn about a different culture or learn a new skill, like an Indigenous-led cedar weaving workshop or dance performance. Leaning more towards relaxation? Consider a gift card to a local restaurant, or a night at a locally-owned hotel.
Package it all together and you have an incredible North Vancouver Island or West Chilcotin tour right here in British Columbia, combining a range of inspiring activities above into one perfect gift for you and your family. Mosaic Earth offers private and custom tours so you can tailor the experience to your unique interests and budget. Memories to last a lifetime - guaranteed!
Have more ideas on how to be sustainable over the holidays? Let us know, we'd love to share.
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1 | Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre/Blake Jorgensen
2 | Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
4 | Josh McGarel Photography