How some Islanders are creating less waste this holiday season

We're hearing some people are actually planning to not give or receive any gifts to reduce waste this Christmas. That may be a step too far for many, but there are lots of other ways to reduce waste.

More people are moving toward a crap-free Christmas

The holidays can create a lot of waste, from wrapping and decorating to uneaten food and unwanted gifts. (Elnur/Shutterstock)

How far are you willing to go to create less waste this Christmas?

We're hearing some people are actually planning to not give or receive any gifts. That may be a step too far for many, but there are lots of other ways to reduce waste. 

CBC News asked Islanders about their plans for a more crap-free Christmas. 

Laura Irene Morneau said some people in her life have asked not to receive gifts.

"In their name I will be donating much-needed items to local charities, using handmade gift bags (reusing paper bags and decorating them with craft supplies from around the house)," she said. "Every little bit helps and adds up!"

"This year I plan on not allowing guilt of not getting my kids enough derail me from only buying them a few things," said Jaime Barnes of Souris. 

"I asked my son what he wanted for Christmas and he shrugged and said 'I have enough stuff.' He's 10 years old and already over getting stuff he doesn't want or need."

Gift cow

Chantelle Hill of Summerside had a neat idea for an advent calendar leading up to Christmas. 

Offer many days of reading instead of an advent calendar with candy. (NL Public Libraries/Twitter)

"Instead of the ones you buy at the store, I bought 25 books at a thrift shop and then wrapped them in newspaper."

Well-known potato farmer Vernon Campbell of Kensington said he and his wife Bertha give one another a charitable gift through a P.E.I.-based non-profit organization.

"Farmers Helping Farmers buy a cow for a family in Kenya — means the world to them, every dollar goes to helping those in need," he commented.

Some people say they plan to give no gifts, fewer gifts, or only gift cards they know recipients will use. (Nami Uchida/Shutterstock)

John Getson said he plans to give "meaningful gifts that have been purchased with intent, throughout the year."

"Cash/gift cards is the best option for people who know their needs/wants better than I," he said. Gifts that require wrapping will be in newspaper "or sales flyers if I want to be especially ironic," he said.

Something to look forward to

"I've been trying to give more experiences than gifts," said Ashe Green of Charlottetown. She takes her husband's family to a show at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in lieu of larger gifts. 

Loanne MacKay of Charlottetown made this thrifty gift out of things she had already in her shed. (Loanne MacKay)

"I think we all look forward [to] it every year because it's another day together over the summer," she said. "The Confed Centre gets tickets sold in advance. I think it's a big ole win all the way around."

Loanne MacKay of Charlottetown makes gifts from things she has on hand in her garage or shed. "Made one yesterday. Cost? $0 since I found all the elements."

"To reduce waste and alleviate the stress, my family is going to draw names and buy only one gift," commented Michelle Burns of Charlottetown.

Daniel Cousins hosted an event Friday night at the Farm Centre called a Barter Bazaar where customers were encouraged to bring items or skills to trade with one another. You don't need a formal event to make this happen though: post a notice on social media or on a community bulletin board of things you'd like to trade or stuff you need, and let the bartering begin. 

From the experts 

Merie Surkan is the manager of public relations and marketing at Island Waste Management Corporation, and she has a fantastic list of suggestions for reducing waste during the holidays. 

Christmas charitable giving

Surkan said support for non-profit initiatives makes a great gift.

Giving gently-used items is acceptable gift protocol nowadays, she said, so shop at your local charity shop for gifts. Remember to donate items that have value for resale to thrift shops.

Gift green

Resuable straws on sale at NADA in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Give family and friends gifts that help them live a greener life, like reusable water bottles, travel coffee mugs, bus passes, rechargeable batteries, reusable lunch bags, beeswax wraps and reusable shopping bags, Surkan suggests.

Give gifts that will help recipients start a garden in the spring or grow herbs indoors. 

Gifts from the kitchen

Homemade jam, jelly, pickles or salsa can make great gifts. (Submitted by Claire Lanctôt)

Cook for those you love by making some plan-ahead meals for busy families on your list. Alternatively, give the gift of an invite to dinner.

Jam, pickles, salsa, beef jerky, baked goods and meat pies are all gifts people love to receive. 

Offer services as a gift

Make homemade coupons for services, Surkan suggests, including babysitting, dog-sitting, small home repairs, housecleaning, mending, shovelling or grass cutting. 

Reduce/avoid excess wrapping

"Make reusable gift bags and include this as part of your gift," or wrap gifts in towels, washcloths, produce bags, aprons or pillowcases, Surkan suggests.

If you do use embellishments, reuse bows and ribbons and make your own tags — "last year's cards are a great place to start," she said.

More P.E.I. news


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email


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