December 1, 2019 News, Sustainability Tips

The holidays can be a most wonderful time of the year and it’s important, during this season of gift-giving and feasting, to be mindful that our celebrations do not come at a cost to others. There are many, easy ways that we can make sure that our merry-making is filled with decisions that are better for the environment and benefit our loved ones and our community. Take a look below for information on responsible online shopping, as well as tips and suggestions for giving the perfect gift.



  • When it comes to carbon emissions, there’s no clear winner between online and in-store shopping. For both types, transportation is the largest contributer.
  • In-store shopping can be more carbon-friendly than online shopping if travel is done by walking, biking, bus, or by ensuring that shopping trips are consolidated and along routine driving routes (i.e. no special shopping trips for just a couple items).


  • Online purchasing results in significantly more waste than in-store purchases and consumers have more control over type and amount of packaging when purchases are made in-person.
  • When purchasing online, you can reduce the amount of waste by purchasing multiple items together and requesting that they be shipped in the same package.


  • Online shopping often means that an item is being purchased from outside your local community.
  • In-store shopping is more likely to support the local economy, local businesses, and to help build community.

Learn more about the importance of purchasing from local retailers.

Shopping online? Follow these tips to reduce your impact. 

  1. Ask yourself some questions. Is this product available from a local store? Can I get this item by walking, biking, bussing or otherwise during a drive I’m already taking?
  2. Slow it down. Opt for standard shipping, even if faster options are free. Express deliveries result in more, emptier vehicles on the road and negate the efficiencies of consolidated and optimized deliveries that online shopping can provide.
  3. Only click once. Consolidate your orders to reduce packaging and delivery waste.
  4. Don’t buy multiples. If it’s an item that needs to be tried on, don’t buy multiples of different sizes – purchase it in a shop. High return rates significantly increase the carbon impacts of online shopping.
  5. Avoid missed deliveries. Make arrangements to be home when a package arrives, or to have items delivered to a neighbour’s home.
  6. Be mindful of what you buy. Check in with yourself – are you certain that you truly want and need this product?
  7. Go to the store to purchase items with high return rates – such as shoes.

30% of all products ordered online are returned, compared to 9% of in-store purchases. Reasons for return include damaged products, products not meeting expectations, wrong items being received, and multiple-item purchasing.


Metro Vancouver’s seasonal campaign has all the ideas you need to lower the amount of waste created during the holidays, from gift-giving, to decorating, to gift-wrapping, and cooking.



An experience

  • Tickets (Science World, Vancouver Aquarium, FlyOver Canada, Children’s Theatre)
  • Gondola Ride (Whistler, Squamish, Grouse Mountain)
  • Go-Kart Racing
  • Escape Room

Something consumable

  • Bath supplies (bath bombs, bubble bath, bath clay)
  • Edible gifts (favourite snacks, special treats)

Something second-hand

  • Clothing for dress-up (uniforms, prom dresses, wacky shirts)
  • Old-fashioned trunks or boxes for toys and playtime

Something timeless that can be passed on

  • Classic toys (Lego, Duplo, Playmobile)
  • Books
  • Board games

Something that can be used to create, to be active, or to build

  • Art and craft supplies
  • Science kits
  • Outdoor activities or equipment


Sometimes you don’t want or don’t need a gift you’ve been given. Re-gifting is a great option to pass them along! An item is best spent in the hands of someone who will enjoy it and get great use out of it.


An experience

  • Tickets (concert, theatre, sports)
  • Classes (cooking class, musical instrument class)
  • Wine tour
  • Massage or spa treatment
  • Memberships (Vancouver  Art Gallery, Yoga Studio)
  • Subscriptions (music/movie streaming services, newspapers, magazines)

Something consumable

  • Edible gifts (baking, gourmet treats, wine/beer)
  • Personal care products (lotions, soaps, aftershaves)

Something second-hand 

  • Vintage items (jewellry, clothing accessories)
  • Artwork and houseware

Something classic and long-lasting

  • Shaving kit
  • High-quality kitchen tools (cast-iron pans, chef’s knife, dutch oven)

Something that can be used to create, to be active, or to build

  • Equipment or supplies for hobbies
  • Outdoor or sports equipment
  • Tools

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