Green holiday shopping tips

It’s that time of year again, the pumpkins and leaves have been sent to the composting pile and the malls are decked in holiday décor.  The stores are filling up with holiday shoppers. According to Moneyville, the average Canadian will spend $711 on Christmas shopping this year.

Here are some tips to help make holiday shopping choices that will help the environment as well as your pocket book.

Make a list

Make a list of who you are buying for and what you want to buy. This will help avoid impulse purchases of items that you don’t really need.

Take a look

Look up your items online. This will allow you to find out some information about the product. You can check the price to avoid going to several stores and possibly making unnecessary impulse purchases while at those stores. Check for environmental certifications such as Energy Star, Forest Stewardship Council, Ecologo or Fair Trade Canada. The Goodguide rates thousands of products based on environmental, social and health criteria. You may decide to purchase the item online to avoid going out to the store. Items are often offered online at a reduced price.

Make a donation

Many retailers will make a small donation to a designated charity with each purchase. You could also make a donation to a charity that your gift recipient would support. For example, for $15 you can give a chicken to a village in need through Oxfam Canada. is connected with many retailers and allows you to choose the organization that you would like to give your donation as a percentage of your purchase.

Buy local

Consider buying from a local artisan. This is a great way to ensure you are giving a unique one of a kind gift that didn’t have to travel thousands of kilometres. Many artisans produce their goods in a much more environmentally friendly manner than a mass production facility overseas. There are also many community craft and bake sales this time of year to raise funds for local organizations. You could pick up a hand-made sweater or cookies to serve at your next party.

Bring your own bag

Avoid unnecessary plastic waste by bringing your own reusable shopping bag with you when you go holiday shopping. There are many reusable bags that will fold up and fit right in your pocket or purse.

Consider an eco-chic vintage item

There are many stores in Halton that sell reuse items that are in good condition and by visiting these locations you may just find that one unique item that speaks to you.

Read the label: Look for recycled or organic content

Check the labels of your purchases to see if they have been made with recycled or organic materials. For example, look for polyester clothing made from recycled plastic. Retailers of such items include Mountain Equipment Co-op, Patagonia, and H&M. American Apparel, The Gap, Aritzia, and Sears are some examples of retailers that carry clothing made from organic cotton.

As a consumer, you have the power to support the values you believe in through your purchasing decisions. Every purchase does count. So shop smart this holiday season and feel good about making a difference.

About Shirley McLean

I am the Supervisor of Solid Waste Planning at Halton Region. My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Guelph. My career focus is to work on programs and policies that lessen the environmental impact of waste on our earth.
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