| Environmental Columns
An eco-friendly Holiday season
While the Holiday season is typically associated with high consumption, it can also be an opportunity to take action to continue to reduce your ecological footprint. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started. It’s up to you to see how you can add to your list!
For many, a Christmas tree is an essential 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 study to determine the most environmentally 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 study 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:
- 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)
- 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 Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 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.
While eating is a big part of the celebrations, there is no need to waste! Planning special meals for a smaller number of people this year due to public health regulations? Prepare portions to freeze! Chances are they’ll be appreciated when you get back to your routine!
Read the column on food waste to find out how to limit this problem throughout the year.
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. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, you can:
- limit the purchase of over-packaged items;
- opt for second-hand items;
- 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.); and
- find out where and how the items you plan on buying are made.
Reducing at the source ensures that we reduce the amount of waste produced!
As for gift wrapping, here are a few ideas for eco-friendly solutions:
- Reuse paper that you have on hand, such as newspapers, flyers, children’s drawings or packaging from previous years.
- Repurpose colourful fabrics from a scarf, sheet, tablecloth or napkin.
- If you prefer to buy packaging, avoid using metallic paper, bows or ribbons.
On behalf of all the employees at the City of Pointe-Claire, we wish you Happy Holidays!
- David Suzuki Foundation, “Lequel est le plus écologique : un arbre de Noël artificiel ou un vrai sapin ?” December 3, 2014 (www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/modedeviecie/l-art-de-vivre-chez-soi/lequel-est-plus-ecologique-un-arbre-de-noel-artificiel-ou-un-vrai-sapin.php).
- Mélanie Meloche-Holubowski, “Comment réduire son empreinte environnementale pendant les fêtes” December 14, 2018 (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1140545/reduction-empreinte-environnement-fetes-noel-gaspillage-dechet-ecologie).
- Radio-Canada, “Quelques pistes pour un Noël plus écologique” December 7, 2018 (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1137714/empreinte-ecologique-noel-ecologique-responsable-decroissance-archives).
- Sylvain Couillard, Gontran Bage and Jean-Sébastien Trudel, “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Artificial vs Natural Christmas Tree” Ellipsos, February 2009 (ellipsos.ca/lca-christmas-tree-natural-vs-artificial).
- WAP Sustainability Consulting, “Comparative LCA of the Environmental Impacts of Real Christmas and Artificial Christmas trees” 2018 (https://8nht63gnxqz2c2hp22a6qjv6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/ACTA_2018_LCA_Study.pdf).
- Harry Groot, Gloria Erickson, Chuck Henderson et al. “Environmental Assessment of Natural vs. Artificial Christmas Trees” November 19, 2018 (http://www.dovetailinc.org/report_pdfs/2018/DovetailConsumeResp3ChristmasTree.pdf).
- Zero Waste Canada, “Zero Waste Christmas” n.d. (https://zerowastecanada.ca/resources/).
- Recyc-Québec, “Les fêtes : une occasion idéale pour récupérer” n.d. (https://www.recyc-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/citoyens/mieux-consommer/aide-memoire/fetes-recuperation).
- PE Americas, “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of an Artificial Christmas Tree and a Natural Christmas Tree” November 2010 (https://8nht63gnxqz2c2hp22a6qjv6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ACTA-Christmas-Tree-LCA-Final-Report-November-2010.pdf).