#HaltonWasteChallenge After the Holidays

Hello Friends of Halton Green Screens, and happy new year! We’re getting back into the swing of things here, with our first event of 2016 coming up tomorrow.

There is lots to share about various aspects of the #HaltonWasteChallenge, but this post will focus on how I did over the holidays.


Gifts given:

I feel pretty good about the gifts I gave this year. I baked cookies for close family members, gave experiences, and made a few homemade gifts (almost) completely from “garbage” materials. Every time I was out and about either running personal errands or HGS errands, I was so grateful that I didn’t have to join in with the hectic holiday shoppers! The gifts I gave still took some time, both in making the homemade gifts and finding experiences that suited each recipient, but it was done from the comfort of home, often with a hot drink close at hand. Here are a few of the gifts – some of the experiences are still pending, so we’ll have to wait and see if I made the right choices!

For my husband (and I): I made a draft stopper for under the door leading to our mudroom, which is poorly insulated. That door is one of the biggest sources of heat loss in our house, so the draft stopper makes our house more cozy and saves us money and energy. It was made out of a leg of an old pair of jeans, with scraps of other old material strategically sewed over some holes. It was stuffed with tiny scraps of material that I’ve saved from other projects, and some holey socks that are no longer wearable. I did, however, use thread that was not upcycled but that I already had in the house.

It may have worked better if I used jeans from someone with longer legs.

It may have worked better if I used jeans from someone with longer legs.

Draft stopper 2

For my Dad and brother: We are sending them to the only local golf course that my dad hasn’t yet tried (but has wanted to).

For my Mom: My mom had jokingly asked my sister for a horse, so my sister and I (along with our partners) are sponsoring a horse in her name at a horse rescue farm. The gift included an origami horse (made from paper from around the house and wrapped in an old cat food box with reused wrapping paper) and a trip to the farm to visit the horse.

For my sister, who loves cats: Neelan and I are taking her and her fiancé to a cat café, then dinner and a magic show. The gift included an origami cat, also made from paper from around the house and wrapped in an old cat food box. I included the origami so there would still be something pretty to put under the tree and add to that anticipation.

Origami cat       Gift box

For my sister-in-law, who used to do a lot of dance: We will go together to do a couple of adult dance classes.


Gifts received:

My family did pretty well remembering and respecting my challenge. I received mostly food items and experiences, and only a couple things came with packaging that ended up in my bin. Much of the food was specialty items purchased in bulk then put into reused jars.

I have been really disliking washing plastic produce bags, and regretting not following Jen Rustemeyer’s (of The Clean Bin Project) advice of stocking up on cloth bags before starting the challenge, so I was pretty excited to find scraps of material in my stocking that my mom is now turning into bags! They don’t break the no buying stuff rule because she got them from an old sheet that was too torn to use.

I also got some trips to restaurants, which means delicious food that I don’t have to cook PLUS quality time with loved ones. Perfect.

It is now pretty much public knowledge that I am pregnant, and expecting the baby on Earth Day halfway through the challenge. (Stay tuned for a separate post on surviving the challenge while prepping for a baby and dealing with pregnancy.) My sister Rachel gave me a perfect gift, even though I still have to wait a few months to use it: a coupon book with coupons for: several home-cooked meals brought to me hot or frozen after the baby comes; help with the laundry while I rest or sleep; and more. I wonder if she knows what she’s gotten herself into.


Party favours and crackers:

If you read the post about prepping for the holidays, you may remember that Neelan and I hosted our families for Christmas this year. Which meant just over 30 people. I considered putting together alternatives to crackers using jars with some goodies inside, but in the end we had enough else to do and decided to just skip them. I think everyone still had just as good a time as we do with crackers! My uncle, who read my blog, even pulled out some cracker-type hats he had at home that are high-quality enough to be reusable. Now I need to remember to bring them to the next family function!


Throwaway dishes and food packaging:

As I said in my post before the holidays, my family arranges in advance to have others bring what they’re missing in terms of dishes and cutlery. Everyone chipped in, we had enough for everyone, and we even managed to wash everything before going to bed (which I think was a first for me).

Most food was brought in tupperware, stoneware, or other reusable containers, with just a couple of baggies for small things and some aluminum foil to cover some things. The baggies and aluminum will at least be recycled. Neelan and I contributed a vegan lasagna with cashew ricotta and pine nut cream. We mostly bought things in bulk, but there were two cans of crushed tomatoes (which have been recycled), and a two packages of tofu that contributed that plastic peel-off top layer to my bin. When I lived in Toronto I had a store where I could buy tofu in bulk, but I have not found anywhere locally to do so. Anyone know of a place in or near Oakville with bulk tofu?


New year’s eve hats and noisemakers:

As I had hoped, the small crowd I spent new year’s eve with did not get any noisemakers. We were offered some at the bowling alley we went to early in the night, when they celebrated “fake” new year at 8pm for the children, but we all turned them down. Leading up to midnight we were at my sister’s place enjoying good food and good company – a perfect way to bring in the new year.


Christmas tree:

Our potted Norfolk Island pine is still holding up well, and I think it looked great decorated for Christmas! We went with a tropical species because it can survive all year long indoors, and hopefully survive for many years to come. We got a lot of compliments and only one person referring to it as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I can’t wait to see how much it grows by next year!

Live Christmas tree

Live Christmas tree



How did you do over the holidays? Anything you think you did really well? Anything you’d like to do better next year? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page, or both. You can also Tweet using @Green_Screens and #HaltonWasteChallenge. We’d love to hear from you!


Return to blog

One comment

  • Hi Heather —

    I’m writing an article for the Town of Oakville’s newsletter and would love to speak with you about how things are going with your challenge — could you please let me know when you might be available for a conversation?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *