Sustainability’s Secrets – Two

Shop quality and locally.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was definitely trying to find a way to rhyme quality and locally there #FAIL. Anywho… I eluded to this point the Sustainability’s Secrets – One post; when giving a gift, shopping for quality items that are sourced locally is very a sustainable option. Often hand crafted locally made pieces make the sweetest gifts anyway, so here are a couple ideas that I will be using this holiday season.

*DISCLAIMER* many of the following items can be purchased at Niagara College, this post is not intended as a blatant advertisement for Niagara College’s retail store, HOWEVER, here at the Office of Sustainability we genuinely and truly love these establishments and we love supporting them. Heck, my grandparents have made a special trip to the Niagara College Greenhouse for years to pick up their Christmas plants that they often give as gifts, so it’s not just me. They are THAT good.

Here are my top 3 favourite local gifts to give this holiday season:

WINE! Here in Niagara there is definitely no shortage of wine. Gifting wine during the holidays gives you an excuse to visit some of the great local wineries and maybe do a taste test or two before you settle on which one you’ll be buying a case of to give as gifts. One of my favourite wines to give during the holidays is a nice sparkling wine and say that it’s special for a New Years toast. Giving that specific bottle a purpose makes it that much more special and personalized. If you are looking to add a little something extra there’s also all the accessories… Wine glasses, corkscrews, sparkling stoppers, etc. You can really put something together that’s very personal and impressive and usually it’s a one stop shop.

BEER! For anyone that isn’t a wine drinker there are also some amazing breweries that are popping up in the region. This gives you the opportunity to put together a really special gift for the beer drinker on your list. Not mention, once again if you are visiting the local breweries you have the chance to taste test before you buy!

HOT CHOCOLATE! For the non-alcohol drinkers this gives you the perfect opportunity to put together a yummy hot chocolate gift mug. I love giving these little make your own hot chocolate gifts to the kidlets I have on my list, but that doesn’t mean that the adults don’t go crazy for them also! If you’re stumped for mom and dad or the grandparents, giving them a school branded mug with some gourmet hot chocolate in it and other goodies just might be the ticket. They love getting their own personalized mugs and the hot chocolate ends up being a bonus. Here is a list of what I include in my hot chocolate gift mug:

  • Homemade hot chocolate mix – I always change up what recipe I use for the mix depending on what I’m going for, a Mexican hot chocolate or maybe peppermint, it’s whatever your preference is
  • A chocolate dipped spoon – these are very easy to make and you can decide how much money you want to spend to make them. You can opt to use a compostable spoon and dip it in melting chocolate and let harder, or you can do the same thing with an engraved metal spoon that you find at a local craft market for something a little more special.
  • Homemade marshmallows – I like including one big homemade marshmallow! Once again, the recipe I use always changes, BUT there are some great local spots that make yummy homemade marshmallows that would be just as great! You can get them at the farmer’s market usually.
  • Candy canes – this is just for whatever, I usually crush them up and put them on my hot chocolate, but your gift receiver can do what they may.
  • Gift cards – Sometimes I include a gift card to a local cafe or coffee shop as well, or I use this as a way to give gift cards in general because I am not a huge fan of just handing someone a gift card.

All of the items listed above can be purchased locally and really you can determine how much money you’re willing to put into it and make it your own. I know sometimes it seems like just giving wine or beer is a cope out, but for someone who genuinely enjoys wine and beer I think they’re great gifts and there is so much you can do with them! Not to mention, you are supporting local businesses this holiday season, which in turn gives back to the community as a whole. Win-win!

Sustainability’s Secrets – One

Give the gift of time.

Time is the most valuable and cheapest ($$$ wise) gift you can give, and coincidentally can be a very sustainable option. How you may ask? Well, lucky for you we’re not just in the business of secret telling, we’ve also found example giving to be very lucrative…

*ATTENTION* DAD, stop reading right now or the jig is up on your Christmas present.

That was a joke, there’s NO WAY my Dad can use a computer well enough to find this post (don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes at me too). With that out of the way, this is actually what myself and my siblings are gifting to our daddio this holiday season – the gift of time with us.

A little background: my dad LOVES sports, especially football and hockey. All my immediate family members are a bunch of Toronto Maple Leafs fans (hey now, remember what I said about this being a safe place), and it would be great to go to a game, but that’s just not realistic for us as the games are mucho $$$. So we thought, why not do something; 1. cheaper and 2. local. Now full disclosure here, I am the only environmentalist in my family, I’ve done as much converting as I can do but when I get to GHG impacts their eyes glaze over, BUT they do often get on board with local food and drink, so I decided to work that angle with my bros when broaching the topic of Dad’s Christmas present. So, now you’re like “okay just tell me what you’re getting him, Jeez Louise!”. FINE.

We decided that we would give our Dad the gift of time by way of spending a whole day with him doing fun local things with a reasonable price tag. We’ll start out the day by touring local breweries (first stop, Niagara College’s Teaching Brewery, duh!), stop back at my place for a delicious lunch made by yours truly, and then to throw in a “good ol’ hockey game” into the mix we’ll finish off our evening at a Niagara Ice Dog’s game.

By staying and shopping local we are reducing the negative impacts of human and food transportation, and by not buying him a tangible gift item we’re not giving him something that is likely to not get used and end up in a landfill somewhere in the foreseeable future.  The total cost of this gift for each one of my siblings will be around $30.00 – $40.00 (tickets = $15 each, food and drink = ~ $20 each), and I know my Dad is going to LOVE it. Not to mention it’s just going to be a fun day out with everyone. A gift like this is also very transferable to anyone on your list; a significant other, a good friend, a sibling that you really like, even your grandparents. Yes, the Niagara Ice Dog’s might not be our beloved Leafs, but it’s good hockey and what really matters is that we’re spending time together.

This gift definitely checks all the boxes: reasonably price √, thoughtful √, AWESOME (if I do say so myself) √, sustainable √. We would love to hear more about how you’re giving the very environmentally friendly gift of time this holiday season, connect with us on social media to share your gifting secrets.

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Sustainability’s Secrets

 – Making the holidays greener than Victoria makes her fashion shows lacy.

Oh the holidays. Stressful for most, enjoyable for… mostest? Basically what I am getting at is that as enjoyable as the holidays typically are, we have to come clean and all admit that this time of year is also very stressful. I know for many people, especially students, the financial burden of the holidays can be a heavy one, but there are actually really cool (and sustainable!) ways to help cut costs over the holidays without cutting any corners. This week we will be sharing our little holiday cost saving secrets here! So check back throughout the week for Sustainability’s Secrets – Holiday edition!