Use this newspaper for wrapping!

And other ways to green your holidays

Mia Hunt

The way we consume has a huge impact on the climate. This, we know. Many of us try to rein it in: driving less, eating less meat, buying less unnecessary stuff . . . then in come the holidays. In the US, studies show consumption increases 25% between their Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ooof! I suspect we’re not doing better north of the border.

How can we rethink holiday consumption? I looked around Sandy Hill for some ideas on being a little lighter on the earth while keeping the magic.

Buy smarter

So much of what we want is already in circulation. I’m reminded of this by the self-described “highly-paid volunteers” at the May Court Bargain Box on Laurier Avenue. Christmas decorations? They’ve got ‘em. Sparkly holiday dresses? You bet!

The thrift store has been bustling for almost 50 years, but the impetus for second-hand shopping has recently changed. As local student Zoé puts her newly acquired knitwear in her backpack, she tells me that she shops at May Court with the climate in mind. “I’m following the zero-waste movement and haven’t bought a new piece of clothing for over a year.” Zoé, you’re an inspiration!

The May Court Bargain Box offers not only clothing and housewares, but also one-of-a-kind and antique objects that would surely delight as gifts. Plus, all profits go to charities in the Ottawa area. Feels a bit better than shopping at the Rideau Centre, no?

Buy less

As an alternate to buying, this holiday season, local resident and group administrator Betsy Schuurman invites you to check out the Buy Nothing Lowertown/Sandy Hill group on Facebook. “We offer a way to connect with neighbours to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude right here in the Sandy Hill community,” Betsy tells me. “Past items asked for and offered around this time of year have included Christmas decorations (even trees!), extra chairs for holiday parties, and gently used toys and games for regifting.” A beautiful community-focused way to give and receive.

Rethink giving

Instead of giving more stuff, what about making a donation or volunteering in someone’s name? Chris Osler from the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is all for it. The Centre provides and supports a huge variety of programs, services and community initiatives and works to reduce barriers to access for Sandy Hill residents. You can dedicate a donation on their Canada Helps page and get a tax receipt via the button on the top of the SHCHC webpage. That’s a gift that gives twice, and who needs another Santa tie?! For other ways to give, and to learn about volunteering at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, get in touch with Chris at

Photo Mia Hunt

While considering this article, my neighbours suggested countless ways to make the season green and bright: stay put instead of flying; check Kijiji before buying new; consider a vegan  feast; send e-cards instead; eat your leftovers; and yes, use this issue of IMAGE to wrap your gifts!





May Court Bargain Box: 228 Laurier Avenue East at Nelson Street,


Buy Nothing Lowertown/Sandy Hill, Ottawa, on Facebook

Sandy Hill Community Health Centre:,