Don’t forget the ‘3R pollution prevention hierarchy’ when planning your holiday gift-giving and festivities: reduce first, reuse second and recycle third.

5 ways to make memories instead of waste this season

From gifts to party-planning, here’s how to make the 3Rs work at the holidays!

The holiday season brings a lot of joy into our homes but it can also bring a lot of extra waste.

Packaging and wrapping paper, leftover food, plastic toys that often aren’t loved for as long as they last … it all adds to the local waste stream.

The good news is that it doesn’t need to.

“Reducing waste throughout the year is founded on the principle of the ‘3R pollution prevention hierarchy’ – reduce first, reuse second and recycle third – and that same practice works to reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season,” says Russ Smith, senior manager of the Capital Regional District’s Environmental Resource Management team.

Here’s 5 simple ways to create a holiday that’s memorable in all the right ways!

  1. Opt for low-waste gifts: If your gift list still needs a few ideas, consider low-waste presents. Experiential gifts – movie passes, family photo sessions, memberships, subscriptions, tours or classes – are always a hit. If you prefer giving something that can be enjoyed right away, opt for homemade gifts like preserves and cookies, or things that last, like heirlooms, camping gear or high-quality cookware.
  2. Recycle your shipping: If you’re doing a lot of your shopping online, remember that most packaging and shipping material gifts arrive in can be recycled – paper envelopes go in your blue bag, hard plastic packaging is blue bin-approved and flattened cardboard up to (or cut to) 30” square can be collected through the curbside program.

    To recycle your bubble wrap, plastic envelopes, inflated air packets and Styrofoam blocks for free, pop into your local Recycle BC depot!

  3. Go gift wrap-less this year: Turns out there are many ways to hide what’s inside without the traditional giftwrap/tape/bow combo. Use things you already have around the house – newspaper, paper bags and old calendar pages – AND make your gifts stand out under the tree. Wrapping a kitchen or food-themed gift? Use a pretty tea towel!
  4. DIY your holiday décor: You’ll find many decorations right in your own backyard: pinecones, cedar boughs and sprigs of holly look beautiful in a wreath, centrepiece or garland. The added bonus? They smell amazing, too!

    Gather the kids and turn old gift bags, already-used paper and greeting cards into a reusable garland for your tree or mantel. When buying new decorations, choose pieces complement what you already have (and that you’ll want to use forever).

  5. Green up your holiday party: Hosting a holiday party? Keep it green by using as many reusable or recyclable items as possible.

    Swap out disposable paper or plastic linens, dishes and cutlery for the real deal; use reusable containers for leftovers instead of plastic wrap and tin foil, and invite your guests to bring a reusable container to take home leftovers after the festivities!

    After the party, tin containers, aluminum trays, whipped cream cans, egg nog cartons and deli trays can all be recycled in your blue bin, while paper plates and napkins can go into your green bin.

It’s all that easy! Learn more at www.crd.bc.ca/holidayrecycling.

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