Cyber Week Mindfulness and Combatting Commercialism During the holidays

30 Best Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas - Easy DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas for Christmas

 

Santa Baby, I want a low waste Christmas, and really that’s not a lot.

In highschool one of my best teachers told me their family didn’t give gifts on Christmas. Initially, I thought this was robbing her kids of the holiday season like the grinch stealing every last ornament. But I have begun to see the point she was trying to make that one morning in my Global Development class.

           The truth is, Christmas has become so commodified that the holiday season is now the largest economic stimulus for many countries around the world. In 2013, the United States generated three trillion USD between American Thanksgiving and Christmas. This accounted for 19.2% of the retail industry’s total sales that year. This November, 58 billion USD was spent online in the U.S, which is up 32% since November 2019 and is projected to average at daily spending of 3 billion USD as the holiday season continues. Now imagine; the zip ties, the wrapping paper, the shipping boxes, the plastic containers, the protective Styrofoam, and the barrels of oil and gas that go into bringing trillions of dollars’ worth of presents down the chimneys and into the stockings across the U.S. alone. Next, picture those “gifts” piling up as plastics in landfills, filling our oceans with microfibers from textiles, stripping forests for cardboard boxes, and most of all as being 19.2% of the capital that each year perpetuates our broken system of endless consumption. Yikes… now look who’s the grinch.

           Lucky for us, we can choose to be a part of a movement that asks; How can we solve this? Rather than; How can we cover this up so we can make even more money? Your dollar has the power to be an economic vote towards better business practices and planet conscious consumption. Here’s how that vote can also put a smile on the faces of the ones you love this holiday season:

1. Gift an experience:

We’ve all been short of experiences this year, and it might seem out of reach to gift an experience when something like a music festival is and will be off the table for a while. So why not splurge on a night at a cool craft brewery, book a few nights at a nice AirBnB, have a staycation, or buy a subscription to a fun online class like masterclass or peloton. 

 

2. Gift gear and things that will get you outside:

Let’s be honest: the winter is brutal, especially in Kingston. But getting outside has never been so important when our whole lives seem to be online. Many of my friends tell me, “There’s never bad weather; there’s just the wrong gear.” So, help your friends and family get outside this holiday season. Buy them that four-season tent, a pair of snowshoes, or some sweet ski apparel that will help them look fresh on the slopes.

 

3. Buy what you need and consider your shipping method:

I get it. It’s easy to get trigger happy when you see 40% off at Aritzia, and as students, a lot of us really benefit from saving on items we otherwise couldn’t afford. So, what’s the happy medium? Be mindful before you hit checkout. Scan your shopping cart and ask, “Do I have another item of clothing that has the same functionality as this one? Does that difference in colour or hemline really outweigh the planetary costs of buying this new item?” If the product you have your eyes on makes it through the filter of impulse buying, next consider your shipping method. Free-two-day delivery is great for the customer, but the planet is the one that bears the burden of the cost. Consider the time frame you need your products to arrive in. Choosing that slower shipping option gives companies time to choose methods with lower carbon emissions. A study from MIT, “Environmental analysis of US Online Shopping,” explains that online shopping typically has lower carbon emissions than the traditional means of brick and mortar shopping. However, when two-day shipping is selected, this often means your product will be flown and then driven to you depending on where your order is coming from and the distance between you and the warehouse. If two-day shipping does, in fact, include air-travel, it will exponentially increase the carbon emissions tethered to the delivery of your parcel. 

 

4. Support Local, planet, and people-focused businesses:

It seems backward and wrong that stores like Walmart, Winners, and Costco are allowed to remain open during the second wave of lockdowns, but local apothecaries, candle shops, and Canadian owned boutiques are forced to flip their open signs over. For a list of 100 Canadian owned businesses with online shopping platforms, click the link here and put a smile on a local entrepreneur’s face when they see “new order” in their inbox.

 

5. Up-cycle and de-stigmatize thrifted gifts

Last but not least, explore a new meaning to vintage and buy your friend or loved one something unique! I know it might seem weird to gift something that had previously been loved by someone else. But our generation sources style from the past decades of the 70’s all the way through the early 2000s, so why not gift that authentically from the era it came from. The world of high-quality thrifting is on the rise, so find that cool piece of clothing or décor that screams the name of someone you love, give it a clean and wrap it nicely, then watch the joy on their face when the time comes to do the unwrapping. Check out these local and/or student-run thrift flip companies on Instagram for your next clothing oriented present:

@thunderwingvintage – Kingston

@limestonecitythrift – Kingston

@hippie_thrift – Kingston

@bugsvintage – Guelph

Four Hiking Trails You Need To Visit Right Now:

Four Hiking Trails You Need To Visit Right Now:

 By Magnus de Pencier

As the leaves fall and weather turns brisk, there is no better time to get out with family and friends alike and explore the beautiful trails in the Kingston Region! (Abiding by social distancing guidelines, of course).

 

 

Trail #1: Lemoine Point

Roughly a 21-minute drive from Kingston City Hall, this 4.7-kilometre trail is usually home to a plethora of dog walkers, runners, and families. Over the course of the trail, one will find themselves walking through beautiful cedar forests (pictured above), alongside the waterfront, and even a few beaches with large flat pieces of limestone that you can sit on if you wish to take a break. You’ll also find several picnic tables right down by the water (these must be booked on the CRCA website: https://crca.ca/), and public washrooms on both the north and south end of the trail. In terms of wildlife, one can expect to see Garder Snakes, Blue Jays, Bumblebees, and Chipmunks, to name a few!

 

Trail #2: Nicholson’s Point Woods

This trail, though a 26-minute commute from Downtown Kingston, is worth it. It’s 2.2 kilometres is jam-packed with old relics such as abandoned cars, freshwater springs on the north side of the loop, mossy limestone, and so much more. The trail is very well kept and maintained with gravel to ensure accessibility of all hiker skill level, except a little hairy at times for kids in strollers. Lighthouse Park, an access point on the trail, offers a great view of Amherst Island across the water. Overall this wheel-shaped loop is worth the visit. 

 

Trail #3: Frontenac Park

The Tetsmine Lake Loop in Frontenac Provincial Park is an hour outside of Kingston, 11.1 Kilometers in length, and so far the most challenging yet rewarding trail on this list. Frontenac Park is regarded as one of the top provincial parks in the Kingston region. Its well-groomed trails, excellent camping spots, and fishing are top-notch. Along the Tetsmine Lake Loop, one can expect to see beaver ponds and long and winding ravines, and incredible lake views. On the trail, one can take a detour to Moulton Lake, a beautiful lake with high hills on both of its sides. One can also see signs representing the old history of Crab Lake Mine, an old minefield! Overall, although this trail is longer in length and certainly more challenging than the previous, from ravines to private campsite beaches, this trail has a lot to offer

 

Medium Trail #4: Gould Lake

This trail is roughly 40 minutes outside of downtown Kingston and 9.3 kilometres in length. It is located within the Rideau Approach+Mine Loop Conservation area. In the warmer weather, one can rent canoes and visit a swimming beach and picnic areas. In the winter, it offers an incredible network of trails, known for the scenic beauty. One of the trail highlights is the open pit from the former Mica Mines, which still has Mica chips all over the surface ground. Although this is a beautiful trail year-round, I especially recommend it in the warmer weather. 

 

To find out more about the best hiking in the Kingston region, I highly recommend checking out this website! https://www.thingstodoinkingston.ca/hiking

Our Ozone Layer and The Montreal Protocol

By Eloise Callaghan

The largest hole ever recorded in our ozone layer was approximately 28.3 million square kilometres on September 3rd, 2000.[1] To try and visualize what that number means, Canada’s entire landmass is 9.98 million square kilometres, meaning the hole was almost three times the size of the entire landmass of Canada.

What does this hole mean for us?

To understand what this massive hole in our ozone layer means for us as humans we are going to start by going over the basics of the ozone layer. Ozone is a molecule that is made up of three oxygen atoms. These molecules make up the ozone layer which forms in the stratosphere level of our atmosphere. The ozone layer absorbs some of the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which prevents it from reaching the earth’s surface. There are two major types of UV rays, UVB and UVA. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburns and play the greatest role in causing skin cancer. UVA rays were historically thought of as less harmful because they did not cause burns, but we now know they are in fact more harmful than UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into our skin and play a role in skin cancer formation as well as causing premature skin ageing.

What is causing the hole?

There is no true “hole” in the ozone layer, rather it is thinning out to the point where there are not enough ozone molecules to effectively block the UV rays. This thinning is due to chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A CFC is a molecule that contains the elements carbon, chlorine and fluorine. When CFCs are released in the atmosphere they drift up to the stratosphere and are broken up by the UV radiation: this releases chlorine atoms that are able to destroy the ozone molecules. CFCs are non-toxic, non-flammable and inexpensive so they have been a molecule commonly used in refrigeration, fire suppression, foam insulation and aerosol sprays.

What did we do about it?

A global agreement was set in a place called The Montreal Protocol. This called to phase out the production and consumption of ozone-deleting substances. The protocol was finalized in 1987 and signed by 197 countries, making it the first treaty in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification.[2]

Unfortunately, the projected path of recovery has not gone as originally projected, and there have been setbacks along the way. Since the global ban, there has been a decrease in the number of CFCs in our atmosphere, but new studies are showing a significant slowdown in that decline. Studies are showing that the use of CFC-11 has been increasing significantly in recent years which caused the rate of decline of CFCs to slow down by about 50% after 2012. The emissions of CFC-11 have been traced back to eastern China and are equivalent to about 35 million tonnes of CO2 being emitted into our atmosphere every year. Since this discovery, the Chinese have started to clamp down and investigate these producers.

Even with the unexpected presence of CFC-11 in our atmosphere, our ozone layer is on its way to recovery. In September and October of 2019, the hole in our ozone layer was the smallest that had ever been recorded, at 10 million square kilometres.[3]

What The Montreal Protocol showed us

While the hole in the ozone layer does not lead to climate change, it is a stratospheric problem of global concern, and CFCs are greenhouse gasses (atmospheric build-up of greenhouse gases lead to climate change). The Montreal Protocol was the first time we came together globally to address a collective concern affecting the health of our earth. If it was not for The Montreal Protocol in the US alone, we would have seen an additional 280 million cases of skin cancer, 1.5 million skin cancer deaths, 45 million cataracts and the world would be at least 25 percent hotter.[4] The Montreal Protocol shows us that change is possible.

Sadly, The Montreal Protocol was so far the first and last time that we were able to come together in this way to address climate change. We have yet to meet that level of collaboration and agree upon significant enough actions to address the problem. That being said, let’s not make this the last major global action we took towards climate change. We must continue to educate ourselves and others and demand better from our governments and corporations.


[1] https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/54991/largest-ever-ozone-hole-over-antarctica#:~:text=A%20NASA%20instrument%20has%20detected,largest%20such%20area%20ever%20observed.

[2] https://www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection/international-actions-montreal-protocol-substances-deplete-ozone-layer

[3] https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/2019-ozone-hole-is-the-smallest-on-record-since-its-discovery

[4] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/ozone-depletion/

5 Reasons Why You Should Apply to CEEC

1. Find motivation towards your passion points

The margin of having only a 2-degree leeway in global temperature increase is a terrifying statistic. Facing the extent of the reality that is the human and ecological crisis can be overwhelming and stress-inducive. It becomes easy to get stunned by the facts and lose track of knowing where to start. CEEC will address climate issues head on while exploring possible solutions to making change towards a sustainable economy.

2. Get first-hand experience from industry leaders in sustainable fields

At CEEC, keynote speakers and panellists are brought in from all across the world. We aim to bring a diverse group of industry professionals that offer unique approaches to solving the climate crisis. In the three days of CEEC, you will be exposed to industry professionals ranging from decision makers in leading sustainable firms to start-up companies exploring new pathways towards innovative solutions.

3. Make meaningful connections with like-minded people

CEEC is more than just a conference on sustainability and innovation. It is a forum for people who are driven to make long term change to connect and learn from each other. Our case competition and innovation competition provide the opportunity to work in teams while exploring solutions towards real time climate issues. By working together delegates are able to build strong connections and leave the conference knowing a new community of people who share the same values.

4. Opportunity to be a part of change

As a global society we are on the cusp of change. We can make drastic change now or face the consequences of 2 degree warming.  Here at CEEC we know that innovation, flow of capital and an open mind are imperative drivers in making the change we need. Our keynote speakers and panellist will engage in these topics, while the case and innovation challenge will allow you as a delegate to take a hands-on approach to work towards a revolution.  

5. Network with potential employers

As a collective our goal is to unite passionate scholars to the leaders of the emerging environmental industry. When you apply to CEEC, we send your resume directly to industry professionals participating in our conference. The CEEC tradeshow provides a unique opportunity for partners to showcase their business and for delegates to network with active recruiters. Key note speakers are assigned to delegate tables during meals, creating an open environment for intellectual conversation. 

A New Wave In Waste Free Consumption

“Zero waste could definitely be franchised; the trick is having smaller boutique stores pave the learning curve for big companies.” Remarked Dinsmore. Cassidy Dinsmore is the owner of the Daisy Market and Gather, two sustainable living stores in the Collingwood area. The Daisy Market is a lifestyle store and refillery for household products. Her goal is to provide customers with the products they need to reduce waste in their everyday lives. Gather follows similar values while creating a waste free grocery shopping experience of bulk goods and fresh produce.  

Dinsmore’s takes a holistic approach to sustainability and is guided by the principle that we must be able to maintain a way of life in both the short and long term without creating a negative impact on the planet. She then applies these values to consumerism when choosing vendors for her store. Dinsmore critiques each product on how it was made and how it will end up post consumption. However, she identifies two barriers while trying to reduce the waste of her store. The main barrier she faces when curating for the Daisy Market is that companies with similar values to hers fall short on their packaging. Producers are now starting to make the shift towards products that are free of chemicals and strive to be zero waste but then are ship their products wrapped in plastic. Dinsmore approaches this type of barrier with transparency in order to fuel conversation. When a mason jar pump arrives to her store in plastic packaging, she will put it on the floor that way with the hope that consumers will see what’s going on, acknowledge the problem then work towards finding a solution. Dinsmore’s second challenge is convincing people to move away from brands they are loyal to in order to try a new brand that is package free. This is where the learning curve comes in.  She claims that it’s about changing people’s ways and teaching people that zero waste and package free doesn’t mean no name. Switching to these brands means supporting something that is doing more than just fulfilling the need to maximize profit.

At the end of the day both Gather, and the Daisy Market are businesses and like everyone else Cassidy needs an income. So, I asked her about the financial aspects of choosing to run her stores the way she does. Unfortunately, the refillery aspect of the Daisy Markey does not pay the bills. Instead, it is her higher end skin care products that allow the refillery to work. However, this may be different if her store was in a large city rather than a small town. There is opportunity for a bigger margin as consumers are still looking for a cost-effective product. As a store owner it is less expensive for Cassidy to order a 20-litre container of shampoo rather than multiple 50 millilitre bottles. As a consumer, it is cheaper to buy a container once rather than paying for packaging every time their shampoo runs out. From which, you have probably deduced that shopping in a refillery style store both increases profit margin for a business owner and increases savings for the consumer. If this is the case, you may be wondering why larger firms are not jumping at the opportunity to shift towards waste free shopping. It could be the fact that such large-scale change may deter consumers out of convenience. Or possibly that higher end markets don’t bare the need to supply their target consumer with a cost-effective product. Either way, the Daisy Market and Gather are setting a great example for what sustainable shopping could look like in years to come if larger companies take the leap towards sustainability.

For more information on the Daisy Market and Gather check out their Instagram page @thedaisymarket and www.daisymarket.ca for more information. Their online store is in the works!