| Environmental Columns

An eco-friendly Holiday season

The holiday season is often synonymous with high consumption. It is, however, still possible to reduce your ecological footprint during this period. Here are a few tips and tricks to do so.

Tree choice

For many, a Christmas tree is an important part of the Holiday decor. But which is more eco-friendly, an artificial or a natural tree? The firm Ellipsos conducted and funded a life cycle assessment to determine the most responsible option. This study looked at criteria such as fuel consumption related to transport, land use, chemical use, the impact of production on climate change, and the disposal method.

The assessment revealed that natural trees generate 3.1 kg of CO2 equivalent, while artificial trees produce 8.1 kg, over a full year. Natural trees therefore have the smallest ecological footprint, while artificial trees only become a better choice if you plan on using it for over 20 years. Whichever option you choose, it is important to take into account certain factors:

Natural tree

  • Buy locally
  • Avoid buying a tree cut down from forest habitats to limit the negative impacts on ecosystems
  • Buy a tree from a farm that limits the use of pesticides and herbicides
  • Cut down your own tree only by obtaining a provincial permit and in areas needing to be cleared (e.g., right-of-way of high-voltage lines)

Artificial tree

  • Extend its use to at least 20 years through proper maintenance
  • Avoid trees made of PVC (No. 3 plastic)

Note that the City of Pointe-Claire will be collecting natural Christmas trees on January 8, 2020, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. The collected trees will then be recycled rather than sent to landfill. For more information, visit the Christmas Trees page.

Meals

Meals with family or friends are cherished times during the Holiday season. From a sustainable development perspective, there are other ways to make the most of meals while being more respectful of the environment, in particular by reconsidering the way we cook. Food waste can be significantly reduce by planning dishes and taking stock of supplies, or by serving portions that are better suited to guests’ appetites. To this end, the Waste and Resources Action Programme has launched a very effective online portion planner. This tool also provides tips for preserving food.

At the end of the meal, placing the organic waste bin in a prominent location will make it easy for guests to empty their plate in the right place. Subsequently, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator or offered to guests to take home in reusable containers. Whatever the case, they will make excellent meals the following days!

Gifts

While gifts are an essential part of the Holiday season, they definitely generate their share of waste. According to Zero Waste Canada, the average Canadian throws out 50 kg of waste during this period—25% more than usual. Here are some tips to reduce the amount of waste generated:

  • Replace traditional wrapping paper with repurposed coloured fabrics
  • Limit the purchase of over-packaged items
  • Opt for second-hand items
  • Reuse decorations and gift wrapping from previous years (bags, ribbons, etc.)
  • Avoid using metallic wrapping paper, bows and ribbons
  • Make your own gifts (food, wooden items, etc.)
  • Give the gift of an experience (a cottage stay with family, a spa day, a show, etc.)
  • Find out the provenance and manufacturing quality of the items you plan on buying

Reducing at the source ensures that we reduce the amount of waste produced!

On behalf of all the employees at the City of Pointe-Claire, we wish you Happy Holidays!

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