The holiday season is often when reducing, reusing and recycling are often thrown out in favour of giving – often extravagantly.
“Christmas is a busy time of year for everybody and it is a time of the year that we produce more waste than any other time. We’re looking at approximately 25 per cent more garbage over the holiday season,” explained Karen Mason-Bennett, the program coordinator for the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT).
This year, the organization is finding creative ways help children understand ways of conserving energy and cutting down on waste during the holiday season.
The 12 Days of Christmas Challenge is designed to help children understand ways of concerning energy and reducing waste. NEAT developed this program for part of their school programs.
“This is a busy time for us in terms of school programming so we tend to visit a lot of classrooms and this enables us to expand our reach without actually having more staff,” she said.
The program involves 12 challenges that must be completed by school classes in order for them to be entered to win the prize of a class skating pass.
The City is providing the prize, which is valued at $165, plus tax.
“I think whenever we as a city can do something to contribute to the success of a program, I think we should do that,” said Councilor Bruce Christensen.
The 12 challenges include hanging LED Christmas Lights, talking about energy conservation, donating to the food bank, singing holiday carols, bringing litterless lunches to school, organizing a mitten drive, turning down the heat, building a snowman, finding news ways to wrap presents, playing games and even building a snowman.
“As soon as they’ve completed all 12 challenges they will let us know. Then that classroom will be entered into the draw,” said Mason-Bennett.
School District 60 will be taking part in this challenge and the same program is also being run in Dawson Creek.
Dave Sloan, assistant superintendent for school district 60, explained that this challenge is something that teachers can include in their winter lessons.
“I think teachers across our district do a lot of excellent things around the holiday season and if they can tap into Christmas and the environment in a positive way that meets their learning outcomes, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all,” said Sloan.
“That’s going to be up to the individual teacher and schools as to whether they would participate.”
Christensen said that having a challenge like this that offers the prize of a class skating pass is something that is positive.
“They can strive towards winning and as well they can become active and participate, get healthier, all of those things which as we know are good contributors towards a good education,” he said.
The Christmas challenge is not only something that will be awareness to the community but also to the students who will take part.
“Part of our district accountability contract, is to produce students who are not only the best in the world, but the best for the world and so environmental action fits very nicely with that objective,” explained Sloan.
NEAT’s goals of this program are to help people become more aware of the waste that happens during Christmas.
“We want to raise awareness of the role of each person within their community as well as the awareness of everyday actions we take and the environmental impacts that they have,” explained Mason-Bennett.
According to Christensen, who is also the chairman of the solid waste committee, the holidays are a definite contributor when it comes to waste.
“Christmas time is huge because you go down the aisle with your daughter or granddaughter and they see this beautiful nice little doll in this huge big box with all the plastic, and all the cardboard and that all ends up in the waste facility,” said Christensen.
Mason-Bennett explained that while people might think that wrapping one present is not a big deal, the wrapping from dozens, or even hundreds or thousands, of presents can make a big difference.
“One of the classes at the high school last year, collected the wrapping paper from three households and they wrapped their entire classroom in paper. It adds up really, really quickly,” she said.
“Little pieces add up quickly.”