'Tis the season for being wasteful: How to be green during the holidays

If you wouldn’t use it, don’t buy it. That’s the message from Matt Wolsfeld from the University of Saskatchewan’s Office of Sustainability this Christmas.

'Re-evaluate all of the actions you’ve been taught as a child,' says Sask. sustainability expert

Matt Wolsfeld from the University of Saskatchewan's Office of Sustainability says there are many ways to cut back on excess waste and energy during the holiday season. (Shutterstock / Roman Sigaev)

If you wouldn't use it, don't buy it.

That's the message from Matt Wolsfeld from the University of Saskatchewan's Office of Sustainability this Christmas. The community engagement co-ordinator says the holidays can be the season for being wasteful.

He's urging people to change the way they think about Christmas traditions and take a moment to consider the impact to the environment.

"One of the biggest tips that I can give for sustainability is just re-evaluate all of the actions you've been taught as a child," said Wolsfeld.
Matt Wolsfeld suggests avoiding shiny wrapping papers, which are not recyclable. (iStock)

"All of the family traditions and things like that and ask, do you really need it?"

He said needless gift-giving could be avoided by sharing items that everybody uses, like socks.

Wolsfeld said energy usage also spikes during the holiday season due to extra travel, lighting and heating.

"Christmas is a really good opportunity to just kind of evaluate how much electricity and energy we're using and kind of bring that down," said Wolsfeld.

He had the following suggestions for reducing waste and energy use:

Reducing waste

  • Try the Japanese method of cloth gift-wrapping
  • Use recyclable bags instead of wrapping paper
  • Use news print or normal paper instead of shiny wrapping paper, which is not recyclable
  • Don't buy decorations that you can't see yourself using in the future
  • Avoid gifts that have too much packaging or non-recyclable packaging

Reducing energy

  • Put timers on lights
  • Carpool on shopping trips or out-of-town journeys
  • Upgrade windows and insulation to reduce heating output
  • Use timed thermostats 

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning