By Lorelee A. Sankarlal

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Now that I have put that song into your minds, you’re welcome! Seriously, though, there is an incredible season coming up with so many events to celebrate – Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Winter Solstice, various New Years, just to name a few. With all that celebrating comes lots of presents, lots of food, and worries over money and spending. So how can we have a sustainable holiday this year? Here are a few ideas.

Skip the wrapping paper Wrap gifts in cloth and ribboninstead. It saves trees and the cloth can be used by the person receiving the gift. Or use cloth bags, which are completely reusable. If  the cloth doesn’t have a holiday print on it, don’t worry about it. That just makes it easier for the person to reuse.

Mason Jar Cookies/Cakes Pack mason jars with all the dry ingredients to make a favourite cookie or cake. Wrap with a ribbon, tag and instructions for baking. It makes a personalized gift that doesn’t cost much but has a big impact. Or bake the item, put it in a box tied with a ribbon and deliver it.

Gift Boxes If you are a crafter or can make wooden toys or something else, put together a small box of supplies to make a creation and add simple instructions along with a picture of the final item. If you are together when they open it, you can both create it.

Heirlooms There is no better time than the holidays to give someone you love something that was special to you. On a card, write the story of how it came to be in your possession, what it meant to you and why you think they deserve it. Give them a little piece of your history to add to their own.

Ah, the toys! Lego has a great recycling program called Lego Replay. If your kids have bricks they no longer use or would like to give them to a child in need, this is a great initiative. Go to to donate. It’s super simple.

Family Experiences Instead of toys, why not try an experience? Something you do together as a family that all of you will remember. And they can cost almost nothing:

  1. Run/hike/walk through a park, along the waterfront, at the zoo or in your neighbourhood.
  2. Volunteer at a shelter or food bank to spend time together and help others.

All that yummy food  In this fall’s issues of Centennial News, Kathryn McLean shared some fabulous ideas for how to create new culinary masterpieces and how to freeze foods for later use. I recommend reading those articles on the CCRA website if you missed them.

Sustainable purchasing

Our area has a fantastic program for sustainable purchasing and recycling on Facebook. Joining these FB groups, you can buy new and gently used items at a fraction of the retail prices. A few local sites are:

West Rouge & Highland Creek Recycled                                  West Rouge Buy & Sell

West Hill Buy / Sell / Swap                                                          West Rouge Buy and Sell 2.0

Donating There are many people who will be struggling this year. If you can, consider donating groceries, gift cards for teens or other needed items to shelters and initiatives around Scarborough and the GTA.

Have a happy and sustainable holiday season from my family to yours!