To help reduce waste associated with the holidays, consider sustainable gifts from local businesses this holiday season.

To help reduce waste associated with the holidays, consider sustainable gifts from local businesses this holiday season.

Share the joy and create memories, not garbage!

Panic buying setting in? Maybe you’re trying to find last-minute ideas and feel you need to hit the big box stores to buy random items for the people on your list? Why not take a look around our lovely valley and ask yourself “How can I support my local economy” or “How can I make sustainable choices?”

Here are a few things to consider this unique holiday season, as shopping looks a bit different…

Think Local

To help our local businesses get through this disruptive pandemic, the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, City of Port Alberni and webmax.ca have developed a free digital platform for the businesses to sell gift cards to be redeemed later.

Better Buy Port Alberni (BBPA) features a wide variety of business categories, from restaurants to hair stylists to clothing. Choose a company you already know and love, or a new business you want to discover.

Gift cards may not look impressive under the tree, but they’re guaranteed to give your loved one something they actually want. Make it extra personal by making a custom gift card. For example, you may want to give someone you love: breakfast in bed, dog walking or spend time weeding their garden.

A lot of our local organizations have taken their fundraisers virtual with some amazing online auctions – a great way to support local charities and share some amazing gifts! For those on your list who don’t need or want more stuff, consider a donation to a local charity their behalf so they receive a charitable tax receipt.

The Farmers’ Markets are also open for a few more weeks and have COVID protocols in place. Purchase some homemade preserves, seasonal baking and other artisanal products from our local producers.

Think Reuse & Repurpose

Polly wants an Instapot and Gerry wants an axe?… Does it really have to be new? Maybe someone else has a gently used item they’re trying to sell online for a fraction of the price.Facebook Marketplace has lots of gems right here in the Alberni Valley or nearby Island communities. Don’t forget Craigslist, Used Alberni and Kijiji are other online resale platforms worth checking out.

The biggest thing is to use your imagination. Thoughtful gifts that encourage zero-waste living is about being creative, defying commercial standards and the motto of continuous improvement. Sustainability is worth striving for! If you can regift items or buy second-hand, this is excellent – the world has enough stuff.

A thoughtful gift certificate is always the right size!

A thoughtful gift certificate is always the right size!

Think Sustainable

Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, estimates that “each Canadian tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays, 25 per cent more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchase of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six million rolls of tape.”

The most important consideration we should be making when choosing a zero-waste gift (or any gift, for that matter) is whether it will actually be used (and cherished). Look for gifts that are compostable (or edible), digital (think subscriptions), or reusable. We want to give things that are wanted, not wasted.The number of Amazon return items that end up in landfills is astronomical!

Look for gifts to help people reduce their waste footprint, including those with minimal packaging, reusable mugs or water bottles, stainless steel or silicone straws, beeswax wrappers, or a living gift such as fruit tree, shrub or houseplant.

And wrap with low-waste materials: old calendars, old maps, newsprint, mason jars, tea towels, brown paper bags that are decorated, fabric … the possibilities are endless!

And if you can find your item locally you might consider which businesses are environmentally friendly, give back to the community, and have a long-term commitment to making the world a better place when making a purchase.

To learn how and what you can recycle this Christmas, download the free ACRD Recycling and Waste Wizard from your mobile app store, looking for . Learn more at acrd.bc.ca/recycling_schedules and check out the Facebook Page “Alberni Valley Waste Reduction Education” for weekly tips and updates for the Valley.

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