It’s Christmas time, and in every corner of Grenada, families and communities are getting ready for the festivities! And no wonder, because whether you celebrate Christmas in the traditional way by going to church or spending time with loved ones, or you make the most of the holidays by having a good time at parties and events with friends, everyone is hoping for an uplifting, fun celebration at this special time of year.
More and more in the Caribbean, we have been considering how we treat our natural environment, and what we can do to protect our wonderful islands and even more so as we approach the Yuletide season. This is important because statistics show that in certain communities, at least 30% more waste is generated over the Christmas holidays than at other times during the year.
Right here in Grenada, we have taken the lead with our banning of Styrofoam, plastic bags and utensils; and as we get ready to rid ourselves of the use of plastic bags in our shopping, this is one great idea on how we can dream to have a green Christmas in the Spice Isle this year!
But are there other ways that each of us can make it a reality, having a plastic-free Christmas? Around the world, many ideas abound as countries strive to encourage “eco-friendly” Christmas activities, without putting a damper on the holiday spirit. Here are a few ideas that we can do right here in our own backyard:
1. Zero-waste gift wrapping
We have all done it – bought that roll of shiny sparkly wrapping paper to wrap our gifts and presents. But these can’t be recycled, and just end up being garbage that’s tossed out once our gifts are opened! This year, how about saving money by wrapping with brown paper or even newspaper! Add a festive bow, and send the message of a green, environmentally healthy Christmas! Or you may want to try your hand at the growing trend of traditional Japanese gift wrapping – wrapping gifts in bright, colourful fabric that’s definitely re-usable next year!
2. Buy experiences instead of objects
How often have we given gifts, whether toys or games, that end up in the garbage bin or under the table a few weeks later, never to be used again? One great, sustainable idea is giving gifts that are “experiences”! These gifts last longer and usually come with little or no wrapping or disposable parts. So whether it’s a gift certificate for shopping at the Mall; or a “full-body massage with mani and pedi”; a bottle of wine; or an outing together to have a meal – giving gifts that are experiences instead of things, reduce our litter and positively impact on our environment, while building great traditions of spending time with our loved ones!
3. Shop with your own reusable shopping bags
The most important idea by far is shopping with our own reusable shopping bags this Christmas! Imagine the difference this year could be, instead of piles and piles of plastic bags ending up in our garbage after the holidays, if we made it our duty to remember to carry our own reusable bags or boxes for our Christmas shopping!
So let’s not wait for the ban on plastic bags next February. Let us make an effort to reduce our litter now, and protect our environment, by giving ourselves the gift of a green Christmas this holiday!
A message from the Environment Division – Ministry of Climate Resilience, Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management, and the Blue Lab, UNDP