Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children, Me to We and We Day. Find out more at we.org. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.
No treetops glistening. The great Christmas crooner Bing Crosby would not approve.
Canada may be renowned as a winter wonderland but on Dec, 25, 2014, Environment Canada's senior climatologist estimated that 85 per cent of Canadians – especially those living in urban areas – saw their dreams of a white Christmas dashed by a mild December.
We got a blast of winter optimism this year when our new federal government appointed an official minister of climate change; even the U.S. brought an ambitious agenda to the United Nations' annual climate conference in Paris. Perhaps future generations will get to experience snow, after all.
But we can't rely only on our leaders' merry intentions to tackle greenhouse gases, and other environmental crises. We need to take action, too.
Our national annual greenhouse emissions are on the rise again, following a brief, recession-induced dip in 2009. And Canada's gross national garbage production is piling ever higher; landfills are the largest human source of methane in our atmosphere.
Zero Waste Canada, an eco-advocacy group based on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, estimates that Canadians go through six million rolls of tape, 28 million natural trees, and 250,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every Christmas.
We've always preferred giving experiences instead of material items – especially after that time during our university years when we wrapped every present in newsprint, and spent a week wiping ink smudges off walls. But beyond that small gesture, and our hormone-free turkey, our greatest eco tradition was dragging out the family's artificial tree years after it stopped looking remotely real.
So we reached out to some of our eco-conscious friends for more modern suggestions. Turns out you can now rent that most crucial Christmas essential. Evergrow Christmas Trees in Burnaby, B.C., loans out potted firs that fit in your living room, then takes them back and replants them after the holidays.
Maybe a green Christmas isn't only in our dreams.
This week's question: What's your top tip for an eco-friendly, "green" Christmas?
Areni Kelleppan, executive director, Green Calgary Association
"Give gifts of beautiful up-cycled items – tote bags made from upholstery scraps, cutting boards made from reclaimed wood, or toys made from recycled plastic milk jugs – to reduce energy required to produce new goods, and divert items from the landfill. Start your search at local craft fairs and farmers' markets, or eco-shops like Calgary's Reworks."
Julie Chaisson, executive director, Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market
"For a sustainable holiday feast, consider locally sourced or seasonal foods – foraged mushrooms, cranberries, fresh herbs, or apples, paired with a free-range turkey or chicken and a bottle of organic wine, or apple cider."
Lindsay Coulter, "Queen of Green" blogger, David Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver
"Wrap gifts with fabric. Check out step-by-step folding tutorials at furoshiki.com for wine bottles, flowers, and irregular shaped gifts."
Have your say in the comment section.