The holiday season traditionally brings about many things: family, a full table of food, new stuff, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, laughter, and the list goes on. A time to be grateful and celebrate, and for some, a time to reflect on how to live more conscientiously. It can also be a time of overindulgence and over-consumption, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can definitely act more environmentally friendly during the festive season and still have a jolly ol’ time. 


SHOPPING Purchase local from neighbourhood artisans, makers, and crafters. You’ll support the local economy and the people in it, while getting products with a lower carbon footprint because they haven’t been transported from afar. The Winter Market is made up of vendors who are 100% local and many of them could even be your neighbours! 

Zero Waste Tip: All of our vendors will accept BYOB “bring your own bag”.

GIFTS Give something that can be consumed or used up, such as preserves, hot sauces, maple syrup, and honey; tea, spices, dark chocolate and cookies; even some local brew or wine. Foods that will fortify friendships and satisfy family members! Edibles not on the list this year? Try a selection of locally made soaps, bath salts, and natural candles.

Zero Waste Tip: All of our vendors will accept BYOC “bring your own container”. A container could be a plastic container, a metal or glass jar, or a resealable bag. Get Santa their cookies without the waste. 😉 

cookies in a tincontainers

Choosing quality over quantity is also one of the easiest ways to give more sustainably. More often than not, handcrafted items are made with a lot of care and consideration, and beat the usual things you’ll find at the mall. Most people appreciate a gift hand picked for them, as it indicates thoughtfulness. 

You may feel like you don’t need any gifts, but that isn’t always easy to convey to friends and family members. Especially the ones who you know like to show they care by presenting gifts. So, how do you deal with other people that don’t quite understand? If you’re hosting, make a note in the invite that you aren’t expecting host gifts, but insert a couple of suggestions of things people could bring that would make you happy to receive. When communicating with family and close friends, don’t feel guilty about sending them a small list. By making a list you can at least pre-select the things you want or need. This will ensure that you end up with stuff that sparks joy.

WRAPPING Christmas wrapping paper waste reaches 277,000 miles, which is enough to wrap around the equator nine times! Whatever the gift, consider wrapping it in reusable cloth using traditional Japanese furoshiki methods. You can find tea towels, scarves, blankets, handkerchiefs, and reusable produce bags at the Winter Market and transform them into beautiful gift wraps that double as a gift! Other materials to wrap with are: newspaper, calendars, comics and old maps; used packing paper that’s been ironed and decorated (a great activity for kids); gift bags and wrapping paper (carefully folded and stored) and ribbons from previous years; and jars, tins, baskets and boxes from the thrift store. 

Zero Waste Tip: When in doubt about ‘what goes where’ when it’s time to throw something out, consult the City of Toronto’s waste sorting search engine: Waste Wizard

zw wrapping 1 

Zero Waste Practices at the Winter Market

At Withrow Park Farmers’ Market it’s very important for us to be stewards of the environment because preserving the health of our water and land is tied closely to the future of our food systems. That’s why at each of our events we participate in waste reduction. And the Artisans Winter Market is no exception! 

  • Our vendors have been carefully curated with a focus on local and sustainable products, many of them incorporating up-cycled materials. We’ve also asked them to provide minimal packaging.
  • Reusables for events and gathers have never been easier! DreamZero will be supplying cups for cold beverages and we’re bringing our coffee mugs from the Farmers’ Market for hot cocoa and other cozy drinks! Special thanks to the staff at Crow’s Theatre for working with us to avert waste by serving their beverages in reusables for the Winter Market!
  • The Zero Waste Station will be set up to provide reusable dishes and cutlery to all of our prepared food vendors, so you can enjoy a bite to eat at the theatre without any extra trash! A green bin will be on site to collect organics.
  • Our amazing partner, Meridian Credit Union at Danforth & Logan, will be providing visitors with free reusable shopping bags – just in case you forget yours! Stop by their table to say hi!
  • We’ll be selling reusable cotton produce bags — which also double as a great gift bag! This reduces waste from traditional wrapping paper and future trips at the grocery store! All proceeds go towards supporting our zero waste initiatives at the Farmers’ Market.

reusable produce bagsDream Zero reusable cup