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Let’s Talk Trash: Grandma knew best

It turns out that in many ways our grandparents and great-grandparents knew how to while away the darker days without casting a heavy shadow on the planet

If the recent deluges have seen you sticking closer to home, you’re not alone.

You might already be spying your calendar and getting into holiday mode by bringing out boxes of decorations and flipping through recipe books. It turns out that in many ways our grandparents and great-grandparents knew how to while away the darker days without casting a heavy shadow on the planet.

It’s often the simplest comforts that satisfy us. What’s more wholesome than grandma’s cookies and a cup of warm apple cider by a fireplace while playing a board game?

We sometimes dupe ourselves into believing we need to fill our lives with the shiny and new when we would find even deeper satisfaction elsewhere. Spending time with those we love, eating a healthy home-cooked meal, and entertaining each other ticks most of our happy boxes.

If you’re cozying up to a fireplace on a gloomy day, you can leverage the heat to dry a load of laundry or a pair of damp shoes. You might even dry out the next round of wood nearby so you avoid the creosote that wet wood might contribute to your chimney.

Make more efficient use of your hearth by installing a ceiling fan or surrounding the fireplace with masonry that absorbs heat and then re-radiates it long after your fire has embered. Get even more out of the flames by warming some tea or placing a cast iron pot filled with water to rebalance room humidity - making your ancestors proud, no doubt.

Home-baked gingerbread cookies are always better than store bought. You’re much more likely to be able to pronounce the ingredients list as well, lowering the guilt-factor of this little indulgence.

You’ll also be reducing the plastic packaging of your household while potentially saving you from using your plastic for overpriced treats. If you’re feeling adventurous, maybe this is the year you bake a gingerbread house from scratch.

Whatever your holiday traditions, you can often carry them forward with the planet in mind. Maybe this is the time of year to invest in LED lights, beeswax candles, locally made decorations, or home crafting supplies to make your own.

Secondhand and consignment stores are full of tinsel, tacky sweaters and stocking stuffers, too. As supply chains are beginning to see strain, thrifting is catching its second (or third) wind.

Sharing what you have with your community was a skill refined by generations past. We can revive this great tradition.

If festive gatherings are in your near future, skip a shopping spree and visit your friend’s closet. You could even host a festive holiday outfit clothing exchange; outfits tired to you are a new-found treasure to another.

If baking isn’t your thing, you might suggest a baking exchange. Each participant bakes an ample amount of one thing and exchanges it for a variety of other treats. Another version of this type of sharing is to support craft makers by purchasing holiday fair locally.

However you plan to spend the month ahead, you are sure to be surrounded by the potential pressures to overconsume. Treading lightly on the planet is our great gift to it and to all we share this ride with.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program. For more information, email or go to