Rethinking Christmas

Michelle MacEwen

General Manager, GIRO

Tuesday, December 13 2016

As we enter the holiday season it is easy to get swept away with all the pressure of purchasing more stuff than we need  in order to satisfy the idea of giving at Christmas. 

 Christmas shouldn’t be a burden to our stress levels, our wallet or on the  environment. With some rethinking we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season, and create a Christmas that holds more personal meaning.

  The impact of the Christmas season on the planet is immense, with approximately $75 billion spent on gifts, $1.9 billion cards sent, and 20.8 million trees cut in North America alone. 

So how do we create a Christmas that holds meaning to us and is also kinder to the planet.

Below are some ideas of how to rethink your Christmas. whether you are decorating or gift giving keep things simple to help reduce costs, waste and stress.

Shop Locally

Support your local economy on Gabriola by purchasing from local artists, businesses and food producers. This helps to minimize packaging and transportation and encourages community spirit.


Consider buying used instead of new; shop in Antique stores, Thrift stores and GIRO to find great deals on unique, vintage and retro finds. You will save money and reduce your environmental footprint at the same time.

Choose Handmade and Homemade

From baked goods to cards and presents, try your hand at creating your own personalized gifts which are always well received. There are lots of great ideas online and be sure to involve your children.

Make your own gift wrap

Half of the paper North America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products.

Wrapping paper and tissue paper are destined for the landfill as they are not recyclable due to the high levels of dyes, clays and fillers. 

You can make your own from brown kraft paper, poster paper, newspaper, or fabric gift wrap and cloth ribbons.

Choose sustainable materials

Organic cotton, wool, silk, hemp and wood are all natural, renewable materials. They add texture and quality to gifts.

Christmas tree options

There is a lot to consider when choosing whether to purchase a live tree or an artificial tree. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products and use up nonrenewable resources in their manufacture, shipping and disposal.  

Consider shopping at GIRO for a secondhand tree.

Millions of live trees are cut down at Christmas time and this also has an impact on the planet. Many tree farms use pesticides which are harmful to the environment. However you can source out local organic tree farms.

Some residents on Gabriola allow locals to cut down a tree in an area on their property where the trees need thinning, which is a more sustainable option.

Another option is to buy a live potted tree that you can use each year until it is too big to stay indoors and can  be planted outside.

Skip disposables

Instead of buying disposable napkins, cutlery and dishware for large parties this Christmas, opt for cloth napkins, real cutlery and dishware. At GIRO you can find some charming sets of mismatched reusable dishware. 

Bringing back the light

December 21st marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally people light candles to honor the return of the light and longer days. 

Instead of choosing candles made from petroleum derived paraffin, look for candles made from beeswax. They not only smell lovely, they also purify the air and reduce indoor pollutants. 

However you choose to celebrate the season take the time to connect to the meaning of Christmas, whether religious or personal, and create your own traditions that speak to you and are kinder to the planet.

To continue the tradition of giving back to the community for the month of December all monies received for the resale of books will be donated to the school lunch program.

Merry Christmas from everyone at GIRO, and thank you for your ongoing support.