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Go green this Christmas

Canadians are cutting down on their waste this holiday season according to Waste Management Inc., who recently commissioned a survey through Ipsos Reid to learn more about Canadians' holiday habits and encourage 'greener' traditions.

Canadians are cutting down on their waste this holiday season according to Waste Management Inc., who recently commissioned a survey through Ipsos Reid to learn more about Canadians' holiday habits and encourage 'greener' traditions.

Among other findings, the survey revealed that half of Canadians are re-gifting, which could be a good thing for the environment. Diane Kossman, senior manager of communications for Waste Management, has the following tips to help you make the season green.

It's OK to re-gift

One-half of Canadians say they have re-gifted. Albertans are most likely to re-gift Christmas presents, with 63 per cent saying they have re-gifted a present they received. While re-gifting is generally considered taboo, re-gifters could be doing the environment a favour. "Finding another use for presents you don't need is not necessarily a bad thing," says Kossman. "Re-gifting could mean you are preventing more items from ending up in a landfill."

The key is to make sure the gift goes to someone who will enjoy it. Personal touches are always appreciated, whether that means including a complimentary item to create a theme gift or using a creative wrapping method to add a personal touch.

Swap Christmas cards for electronic greetings

"Before you send out stacks of paper cards and letters, think about where they'll end up," cautions Kossman.

In fact, one in 10 will toss their Christmas cards 'almost immediately' after receiving them. Some people have already taken the hint, as one-quarter of Canadians intend to minimize their environmental impact by sending digital Christmas cards instead of paper cards or letters this year.

Wrap wisely

Many Canadians are eschewing traditional wrapping paper, with 31 per cent using an alternative method and six per cent giving gifts that don't require wrapping. While a majority (57 per cent) of Canadians still wrap their Christmas gifts with traditional wrapping paper, 57 per cent of those who use wrapping paper plan on recycling it.

"Wrapping paper can generate a large amount of waste very quickly, so consider choosing re-useable bags, boxes and bows, or getting creative with no-wrap options," suggests Kossman. "If you are using traditional gift wrap, look for kinds made from recycled paper, re-use it as much as possible and recycle it when it can no longer be used."

Don't just trim your tree – recycle it

Seventy-five per cent of Canadians will have a Christmas tree this year and among those who have real trees, 75 per cent will recycle them after the holidays. "The best thing to do with your tree is recycle it," says Kossman. "Once recycled, trees can be turned into garden mulch, into erosion barriers along the beach or used to create feeding grounds for lake fish."

To find more information on a local Christmas tree recycling program, contact your local municipal waste management or public works office. Alternatively, purchase a potted tree that can be re-planted in the spring.

Minimizing your waste will also give you more time to enjoy the festivities. According to the poll, one-quarter of Canadians will spend at least an hour on Christmas Day packing up trash.

With a little creativity and commitment, Canadians can make a very real impact on the environment. Waste Management encourages everyone to start environmentally conscious traditions this season that will make the holiday a little greener.




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