All that twinkly, glittery garishness associated with Christmas wrapping makes for a flashy presentation but it’s most definitely not a gift to the environment, says Winnipeg-based Green Action Centre.
So while we’re dreaming of a white Christmas, we need to think more green, the group says.
“It’s quite crazy, actually, the statistics surrounding how how much waste we are sending to a landfill around the holidays,” said Bethany Daman, a co-ordinator at the centre, which develops and advocates for environmental policies for Manitoba communities.
“The stats that we have is approximately 550,000 tons of wrapping paper is thrown out, so it goes to the landfill, in Canada each year.”
That includes things like the shiny wrapping paper as well as the glossy gift bags and the tissue paper used to cover the gifts inside those bags, Daman said.
“All three of those items are not recyclable in Manitoba and the reason is they contain the glitter and they contain plastics,” she said.
“There’s coloured shapes in there mixed with wax, metal and clay content and some of it’s laminated, so there’s too many additives, making it difficult to recycle.”
The Green Action Centre tries to help people come up with alternatives that take the unnecessary glitz out of gift wrap.
“If you have a scarf or something, you can actually turn that into quite a beautiful wrapping piece. You can use the ends of the scarf to make a bit of a bow at the top,” Daman said.
“Or something that someone in our office is doing this year is using tea towels to wrap her gift.”
Other suggestions include using plain paper that comes in rolls, like the brown kraft stuff used to wrap packages for shipping.
Decorate it with stamps or markers or “get crafty and make your own embellishment from paper, string, leaves and twigs,” says Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental action organization.
Or find old magazines and make a collage, Daman suggested.
“If there’s a little bit of glue, it’s going to be fine to put in the recycling after. As long as [you’re not using] glitter glue or an excessive amount of paper glue, that’s gonna be totally fine,” said Daman, and she agrees that markers and stamps are a great way to dress it up.
Same with a little bit of brushwork. But only a bit.
“If you’re doing a bunch of painting on it, that’s not going to be OK to recycle,” she said.
Not only are these options better for the environment, they show the person getting the gift that there’s been a lot of thought put into it.
“I definitely think that that ends up being a more special way of presenting the gift as opposed to just going to the mall, picking something up, getting it wrapped and then just presenting it to them,” Daman said.
“It’s something that you remember for so much longer when you’re actually having that effort put in.”
Reusing newspapers is another inexpensive, easy and green alternative. Flyers advertising Christmas sales can make a colourful substitute for traditional wrap.
If wrapping isn’t your preference, an option is to get reusable cloth Christmas bags, Daman said.
“They have holiday designs on them and a lot of them are made from reclaimed material, so you can just use that bag over and over again from year to year and you can buy them in a variety of sizes.”
Substitutes can even be found for the tissue paper, said Daman, who recently put together a gift for a friend who likes cycling.
“I took an old cycling map and I used that as tissue paper in the reusable shopping bag. It was something that was going to get recycled anyway because it was an outdated map, but I was able to use that in a creative way that also reflected something of the person,” she said.
If you happen to be on the receiving end of a glossy gift bag, the best way to contribute to the environment is to save it and get as many additional uses out of it as possible before it goes to the landfill, Daman said.
Same goes for the wrap, said Rachel Kitchin of Environmental Defence.
“If your parents and grandparents are anything like mine, they probably also save all their wrapping paper and carefully fold it up to be reused next year. This might seem old fashioned, but it’s actually a great attitude that we could all use a little more of.”
While recycling is important, reusing is better, “because an endless stream of recycling isn’t sustainable,” Daman said.
“There’s still resources going into processing that recycling, so we have to think about always reusing what we have and then finding a recyclable alternative.”‘
And in the end, that’s a present to everyone.
“A sustainable gift is a gift to future generations and if we’re thinking about the future, we’re thinking about the Earth,” said Daman.
More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton
OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.
The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.
The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.
The program is officially set to launch this September.
It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.
The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.
VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training
Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.
The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.
Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.
The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.
Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test
While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.
Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.
This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.
Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.