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Zero Waste Canada estimates we generate around 25 per cent more garbage during the holidays—about 50 kilos per person. With that in mind, event planner Trevor Frankfort stopped by to share ideas that can help make your holiday celebrations a bit greener. All of these ideas make use of sustainable, recycled and green materials, and Trevor suggests you use products from around the house and reuse many of them from year to year.

ADVENT CALENDAR

Instead of buying a new advent calendar every year, you could get a reusable fabric advent calendar with pockets and fill them with little surprise gifts for your kids. Some have a little Santa inside whatever day it is, so that each morning when the kids get up, they’re so excited to see that Santa has jumped to the next day and they’re closer to Christmas! You can also make your own out of used gift boxes and cards so that it will last forever.

WRAPPING ALTERNATIVES

Sadly, a lot of the wrapping paper and gift bags we use can’t be recycled! If it has metallic foil, velvet or a lot of glitter, it ends up in the landfill. You can use items from around the house to wrap your gifts beautifully and sustainably, such as an old map, a newspaper, a comic or sheet music. You can also use part of the gift! For example, a scarf, bed sheets, pillow cases or a t-shirt can be used to wrap the rest of someone’s gift. You can finish it off with recycled ribbon or rope.

HOMEMADE MENORAHS

A homemade menorah can be made using tea light candle holders, water, food colouring and candles. There’s another option that is super cute for kids to make! It involves using toilet paper rolls, paint chips and fake tea lights (because of the paper involved).

TUNA CAN DÉCOR

You can make mood lighting out of cans of tuna or whatever you have at home. Spray paint the can gold, add some unused fabric and pop a tea light candle inside. You can turn them into a board or stick a magnet to the back and put them on your fridge.

WINE CORK WREATH

If you collect the corks every time you drink wine, eventually you’ll have enough to make a wine cork wreath!

CINNAMON STICK CANDLE

By gluing some cinnamon sticks onto a candle and tying some burlap around it, you can make a quick and easy cinnamon stick candle.

HOLIDAY CRACKERS

For the first holiday cracker snap, you’ll need leftover fabric, a toilet paper roll, fabric, ribbon a little gift for the inside. You can be creative with the gifts and include something people will actually use, like jewelry, book marks, wine bottle stoppers, small toys, lottery tickets, sweets, mini alcohol bottles or a mini perfume bottle. The second one uses leftover tissue paper. For this you will still need the toilet paper rolls, tissue, ribbon and the cracker snap. Don’t forget to put the gift inside first!

HOMEMADE ORNAMENTS

Making your own ornaments can be a fun family activity and make decorating more meaningful. Taking old puzzle pieces, you can paint them white and turn them into snowflake ornaments. You can also make two kinds of ornaments out of pine cones. One can be sprayed with glue and then rolled it in Epsom salt. The other can be turned into an adorable reindeer.

PERSONALIZED ORNAMENTS

You can make personalized ornaments out of mason jar lids using pictures of your friends, family members, loved ones or people you admire. Also, you can always swap the picture out for something else!

TREE ALTERNATIVES

Real Christmas trees are composted in most parts of the country, so long as there’s no stray tinsel, lights or decorations left on them. Plastic trees will end up in the dump instead of the compost – however, there are alternatives. There are companies out there that rent trees, pick up and deliver locally grown trees, and turn them into bark mulch after. Another alternative is to buy a smaller potted pine tree, use it for the holidays and then plant it in your yard. You can also go to your local grocery store and asked them very nicely for 2 pallets. Using LED lights, make the shape of the tree and then decorated it with your own ornaments. You can store this and use it again year after year. If you love the smell of pine and Christmas just isn’t the same without it, perhaps you can buy a soy or nontoxic pine scented candle!

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