T’is the season for feasting, gifting, receiving, and decorating! But also for mounds of plastic lined wrapping paper tied with plastic bows and ribbons, tinsel in every crevice of your house, plastic decorations hung from a plastic tree, Quality Street chocolates containers on every table, and plastic wrapped on all the leftover food that was made for an army. All this holiday trash then goes to a landfill where things are far from merry and bright!
Living plastic free is on the consciousness of many environmentally friendly folk this year, and celebrating the holiday season with less waste is increasingly on the minds of Nova Scotians. So, in the spirit of giving, we have complied a list of plastic free gifts to give this holiday season – these are local Nova Scotia-inspired gifts but the concepts can be adapted for use world wide.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box from a local farmery.
One of the biggest growing industries in Nova Scotia is “Farm to Table” boxes available for the community to purchase – either as a single box or a subscription. Farms like Abundant Acres in Hants County, with pick up locations at the Seaport or Warehouse Markets, offers great winter shoots, greens and roots in their Winter boxes. Elmridge Farms in Kings County is at the market every Saturday with their fresh produce and full line of reserves! East Coast Family Market has awesome humanely raised meat – they even have stocking stuffers for your 4 legged friends! TapRoot Farms has winter weekly boxes that include things like squash, onions, cabbage and potatoes, which make for awesome holiday dishes. You can even gift prepared meals – which for a busy family would be a GREAT time saver for busy evenings. Saute in Halifax makes delicious ready lunches, suppers, smoothies AND will deliver right to your door! Give the gift of a full belly this year – for a complete list of local farms click here!
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, swimming lessons and other kids activities.
The gift of an experience for a child will last longer than that “Hot Diggity Dance & Play Mickey” doll that’s all the rage this Christmas. There are tons of indoor play areas such as The Play Box in Dartmouth that would make a kid very happy for a day! A membership to the Discovery Centre in Halifax is a gift that will keep on giving hands-on learning experiences to a child for the whole year. Swimming lessons at the Canada Games Center or skating lessons at the Dartmouth Sportsplex will also light up a little kids eyes on Christmas morning! Some other options would be movie passes or a visit to the Oakland Farm Zoo in Aylesford, NS.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a class to learn how to make pottery!
There are some great classes out there for adults who are eager to learn a new skill! Hands-on-Halifax, offers woodworking classes and they have punch cards for purchase to go in and use their equipment freely. There are cooking classes offered all over Halifax such as the Kitchen Door which will have a brand new home after Christmas, in Dartmouth! HalifaxRec offers wonderful pottery, archery and yoga classes which would make for a great gift for that mom that wants to get out of the house once a week and do something for herself. Even NSCAD University offers great adult evening art and photography classes!
On the forth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a package free treat and a waste free coffee!
In Halifax caffeine is essential – especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The eco-minded Haligonian has a lot more options for a green cafe these days. The Tare Shop is quite unique, as it is the first zero waste coffee shop in Halifax, so you can give the gift of a truly guilt free cup of coffee this holiday. They also have a bulk section where you bring your own container and fill it up with items like almonds, coffee and soap! Another great coffee shop is Two If By Sea known as TIBS by Dartmouthians, getting one of their famously delicious scones over the Holidays will definitely warm someone’s heart (maybe two hearts – they are huge!). Another unique little coffee shop is Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters in Lunenburg, NS, serving 100% organic and fair trade coffees. They claim to have the lowest carbon footprint per cup due to their heat-recycling roasting technology – now that’s a green cup of jo!
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a meal at a restaurant that is eco-friendly!
There are many restaurants around Halifax that have taken steps to be more green and environmentally sustainable. Janes’s in Halifax’s North End not only uses fresh locally sourced ingredients for their meals, but takes pride in using reusable, compostable and recyclable dishes, cutlery and take out containers. The Wild Leek, a vegan restaurant in Halifax, hopped on the no-straw wagon this summer by drastically reducing the straws they served and reduced all kinds of other plastic waste by replacing it with biodegradable containers! Did I mention that they also only use the freshest seasonal local ingredients! The Wooden Monkey has declared that they are a restaurant with a conscience. Focusing on supporting local farmers and environmental sustainability, their meals are farm to table and leave your belly and your conscience very satisfied.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a winter coat and scarf that were new to me!
Buying secondhand is a lot more common than it used to be, especially with people increasingly more eco-conscious. Not only can you find some really unique options at consignment stores, but it keeps those treasures out of landfills – remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Lost & Found in Halifax offers great vintage clothing and jewelry that are specially handpicked by the owner. Their walls are also clad with local artist talent, so you are sure to find something special for that hard to shop for person on your list! Brilliant Clothing Boutique located in a beautiful Victorian home, showcases their “pre-loved” pieces and take pride in only selling gently or new items that are in “flawless condition.”
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a jar of Naughty Pickles from Torshee!
When it comes to supporting local, Halifax has such a large selection of wonderful home made treats that you can gift all year round! With many markets spread across the city, such as the Halifax Seaport Market, there isn’t a shortage of grandma’s jams or locally brewed reusable Growlers for purchase! Our friends at Torshee by Russell & Sons, make delicious mouth watering Persian pickles and fermented vegetables that will be a hit on any table this holiday season. They are even able to use all the veggies that might get neglected over the holidays due to appearance – they are all about taste with little to no waste! Not only are their products tasty but they are packed full of probiotics and digestive agents that will help with those carb-stuffed bellies over the holidays. North Brewing is a great local brewery offering 1$ off when you refill your Growler – a gift that keeps on giving all year round, with no waste! They also have some neat looking cans such as their Divination IPA or the Twinkle Pony Tiramisu Stout. Garrison Brewing Co. has partnered with the Ecology Action Centre and have dedicated themselves to helping the environment and supporting local in their brewing process. They also take part heavily in the community by pouring at numerous charity events all year long! Other favorites that you can find at the market are Ewe Boots, which are handmade one-of-a-kind booties for children made from almost 100% recycled and upcycled materials found at local thrift shops. The market is a great place to not only shop local but also to shop eco-friendly!
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a membership to my local tool library!
Giving a membership to someone is great because it keeps on giving! The Halifax Tool Library is a pretty unique library that, as the name says, lends out tools. It gives students, low-income residents, non-profit groups or anyone the ability to follow their dreams and build something. They also offer workshops for that eager DIY person in your life. Makerspace is another neat concept of a community coming together to build a shared workshop space. It’s a space where everyone learns together and supports each other, they say “it’s kind of like a gym for your brain,” also offering classes and workshops all year round.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a donation to a local charity!
The holidays are filled with giving and receiving, but what about giving and giving? Donating to charity in someone else’s name is a simple way of sharing the great feeling that comes from doing good over the holidays. There are many shelters or community centers all over the city that are always looking for help; sometimes it is hard for people to find ways to help because they are so busy. Do the research, find the charity or shelter that your special someone would support and give for them! Adsum House in Halifax is a women and children’s shelter, they post “Holiday Wish Lists” on their website every year letting people know what the women that come into their care require over the holidays. What better feeling is it to know that you helped make Christmas a little brighter for someone less fortunate? Out of the Cold is another local volunteer-run organization that helps provide shelter and community support to people that are homeless. They also have lists on their website of supplies they need over the holidays.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a reusable travel mug for my tea!
Gifts with an environmental message are all the rage this year! A refillable thermos or water bottles, canvas tote bags, a battery re-charger or a cool solar power gadget are all in this year! Anchored Coffee & Treadwell Clothing have some Nova Scotia inspired mugs at their shop in Dartmouth that can be filled with their eco-friendly coffee! The Trainyard General Store is a really neat little shop in Dartmouth focused on bringing together local talent into a community. You can purchase an array of items including handmade mugs and bags from many Nova Scotian artists. Another great store is The Trail Shop in Halifax, they are filled with items for the outdoor lover in your life. They have been around since 1967 providing premier outdoor gear such as equipment for hiking, climbing and kayaking – just don’t forget to skip the bag!
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a visit from a local cleaning company to get rid of all that holiday debris!
When the holidays come to an end, it is always hard to get the motivation to put away all the decorations and to get rid of the tree needles that have been scattered around the entire house. It is the perfect time to get things organized, but you never know where to begin. The benefit of hiring a cleaning service is that you can enjoy one more day without responsibility and trust that they will clean the house to your liking – which sounds like a perfect gift for someone over the holidays!
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a sensor to measure soil carbon dioxide NEE!
While talking about all the gifts to protect the environment, how about a gift to study the environment? Many researchers are spending their days, months and years studying the effects of all this plastic on our ecosystem – the more trash the more gas! Any soil researcher on your holiday list would definitely love an eosAC, a Picarro portable GasScouter or a CR1000 DataLogger from Campbell Scientific to help further their research goals! Other items that someone working in the field would like to get this Christmas are some new waterproof notebooks, a dry bag or some new rain gear – all of which can be found at your local MEC store!
Remember this holiday season that you are not only giving a gift to that special someone, you are giving a gift to the environment. So shop local, support your friends and make a conscious effort not to add more unnecessary plastic to our landfills.
Happy Holidays from Eosense!