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Going green for the holidays


Approximately 55% of Canadians are using LED lights to decorate their homes (courtesy: Ida Newhook)
Approximately 55% of Canadians are using LED lights to decorate their homes (courtesy: Ida Newhook)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

December 16, 2012 — An increasing number of Canadians are saving money - and reducing waste - during the holiday season.

Gift wrap is a huge source of waste during the holidays
Gift wrap is a huge source of waste during the holidays

According to a new survey by Accounting Principles, 4 out of 10 Canadians pass along unwanted gifts to colleagues during the holiday season.

It's a practice that could be indicative of a larger trend: Statistics show that an increasing number of Canadians are reducing, recycling and reusing during the holidays.

Last year, an Ipsos Reid survey found that 18% of Canadians save their gift wrap for future use, while 55% are using LED lights to decorate their Christmas trees and homes.

Marilyn, a retiree living in Burlington, Ontario, says she's been known to set aside gift bags and ribbons, because it's convenient.

"Saving wrapping paper is good for the environment, but it also means there's one less thing I have to worry about when I'm shopping for gifts," she says.

Others skip the packaging entirely.

Household waste can increase by as much as 25% during the holidays
Household waste can increase by as much as 25% during the holidays

William, a computer programmer from Ancaster, Ontario, says he wraps his gifts in newspapers, exclusively. 

"I find that gift wrap and cards are wasteful," he says. "A few years ago, I started using comics taken from newspapers to wrap all of my gifts, year-round. You don't need to spend a lot of money to make a present look nice."

He may be on to something.

According to RecycleWorks, a government initiative based in California, household waste can increase by as much as 25% between American Thanksgiving and New Years Day and an estimated 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold in the U.S. each year, generating enough paper to fill a football field 10 stories high.

Marilyn says she tries reduce waste during the holidays by sending electronic cards and making smaller meals -- but she draws the line at re-gifting.

"When someone buys a present, they're usually buying it with the recipient in mind," she says. 

"There's nothing wrong with re-gifting, but I find the practice a bit impersonal."

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