Wishing you a considerate holiday season

The holidays have become the most wasteful and self-centered time of the year.

The Christmas lights went up earlier than usual at my house this year. We normally wait until the beginning of December, but the colours and warm lights felt like a hug amidst an exhausting November. While I’m a sucker for Halloween, I have to admit the holidays have a different kind of magic, a comforting one. Still, the activist in me is bothered by the extreme culture of consumerism and (ironically) individualism that the holidays inspire. 

Shades of green, red, blue and gold start replacing the purple and orange in the seasonal section of retail stores in mid-October. As people run from shop to shop for gifts and plastic decorations, I can’t help but wonder what makes the urge to participate in the commercial-Christmas culture so much stronger than the desire to be considerate of our environmental impact. 

Back in 2020, I interviewed a family friend who had been working for a few years on switching to a zero-waste lifestyle. Mélanie Major is a mother of four and is raising her children to be compassionate, kind, and aware of their impact. 

“When you decide to make the switch to zero waste, you notice the waste even more,” Major said. “You tell yourself, there just has to be a solution to all this.” 

Major shared some sustainability tips for the holidays, starting with reducing food waste. She eliminates as much meat as possible from her Christmas menu to reduce her environmental footprint. She also makes smaller quantities and turns her leftovers into new recipes to prevent waste. 

With Christmas inevitably comes panic shopping—or, as Major puts it, “buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift.” She opts instead for more thoughtful gifts such as activity gift cards and passes, books by local authors, secondhand items, meals, and other handmade presents. 

Major didn’t switch out her old decorations for new sustainable ones—that would be counter-intuitive and wasteful. Instead, she decorates her tree with ornaments her mother attaches to their gifts every year and ornaments handmade by her kids. She also reuses old gift-wrapping materials and even wraps presents in towels, scarves and other textiles that can become part of the gift.

We should make decisions according to our values, rather than exhaust ourselves in trying to keep up with the commercial calendar. “When I first got pregnant, it just clicked,” Major said about her decision to go zero waste. “It’s nice to have a child, but what world do we want them to grow up in?” 

We share this world with nearly eight billion people and an estimated 20 quintillion (yes, it’s a word) animals. We are surrounded by beautiful and abundant life, which we pull a profit from with unjustified entitlement.

If the holidays are a time for kindness, they should also be a time to consider what we blissfully ignore and to reflect on the broader impact of our actions. 

You indirectly cast a vote with every decision you make to buy something—what do you encourage with every swipe of your credit card?

While the holiday season is a comfort to some, it can be a nightmare to others. I encourage you to be considerate not only of the environment, but also of your fellow human beings who are in need of love, kindness and support. I would even go further and urge you to not only do this for the holiday season, but to keep this mindset all year round in your breast pocket, right next to your heart.


Drop By And Drop Dollars at the CSU’s and FASA’s Holiday Market

Concordia’s Student Union and Fine Arts Student Association have teamed up for the Holiday Market this Dec. 7 at the CSU lounge, on the 7th floor of the Hall building

The idea of the Holiday Market came from the success of the BIPOC market hosted at the chapel on the Loyola campus on Nov. 8, organised by the CSU’s Loyola coordinator Sabrina Morena. Many tables were set up and decorated, with snacks included, and Concordia’s radio station CJLO made an appearance with their very own DJ. 

“It was relatively simple to organise in many ways which is why we thought short notice would do something similar,” said CSU Student Life Coordinator Harley Martin. 

The goal of this market is to expose artists downtown and at a more festive time of the semester. “We thought, ‘why not do something similar, closer to vacation time at the CSU lounge’ given there are so many people there at lunch,” added the Student Life Coordinator.

At this event, you’ll find beautiful tangible products such as ceramics, paintings, drawings and jewelry that you can buy for yourself and others. “We talked to FASA, and they said ‘let’s do it,’” said Martin

The Holiday Market was created with one two-sided goal: the first is to provide publicity for Concordia students in the fine arts, and with a great place in mind to do it. The 7th floor of the Hall building is always busy. “There are always people there,” said Martin. “It’s a great place to allow people to see some of the art and artists produced at Concordia.” 

The second aspect is the market’s capability of providing exposure for the artists, letting people know that fellow students create art, even though they’re not necessarily enrolled in a fine arts program. “They could do art on their own time in other departments or fine arts, but it shows other students that people are making beautiful and interesting things at Concordia, so [it’s] kind of exposure for both parties,” said Martin.

The CSU has collaborated with FASA many times in the past in order to stimulate and inspire unfamiliar students who are interested in getting involved with the fine arts. “The idea is that we try to get students involved in things that they are interested in, and FASA is one of the various groups that contribute to the school experience,” concluded Martin. 

Make sure to bring your friends, your eye for gift-buying, and your holiday spirit to the CSU lounge on the last day of classes!


Ritz-Carlton’s viral holiday social media post was not what they said it was

The luxury hotel chain backtracked on it’s promise that every share would equal one gift for a sick child



Ritz-Carlton Montreal spokesperson Katia Piccolino said that the intention behind the campaign was never to deceive the public. Rather, the purpose was to raise awareness and get people to donate to the Tree of Lights campaign for Sainte-Justine, which many people did, she said.

It all came down to the wording of the post itself, she said. “If we would have put a cap on the number of toys we were going to donate, then this problem wouldn’t have occurred.” Piccolino apologizes for and admits to this error.

Finally, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal decided to extend their donation to the Montreal Children’s Hospital as well as Sainte-Justine. Children from both Hospitals are expected to receive toys in time for the holidays.


Ritz-Carlton Montréal’s viral Instagram post was suddenly taken down on Monday morning, Dec. 7, after having been up for less than a day.

The video post featured essential workers in a hospital during the late hours of night, as well as sick children who were unable to be in proximity of their families due to the global pandemic. An inspirational piano tune played the background of the video as the closing caption read “far from our eyes, close to our hearts.”

The heart-warming video was paired with a caption that stated the Ritz-Carlton would be collaborating with Decarie Motors et Vo-Dignard Provost Groupe to deliver toys to the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.

The post stated that every Instagram story share would result in one toy donated to a sick child in need.

Due to a high number of shares, the post blew up overnight. Within nine hours, it reached 150,000 views, according to MTL Blog. Representative for the Ritz-Carlton Montréal, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Concordian, “it created a buzz that was so unexpected we had to take it down.”

The representative further explained that the post had reached its goal of 500 shares, a number that would guarantee a toy for every child at Sainte-Justine. The original post made no mention of this 500 share limit.

People who shared the video were not happy about the secrecy that went in taking the post down. The video was put back up after the backlash. Angry social-media users took to the Ritz-Carlton’s latest Instagram post to express their disdain for the alleged questionable campaign.

Accusations that the luxury hotel used sick children as a publicity stunt to better their image were many people’s concerns. One Instagram user said, “got more shares than y’all thought and didn’t want to start having this be a non-profitable venture.” Some threatened to boycott the hotel all together if they didn’t release a statement saying that they would donate all the toys.

A statement was released to the hotel’s Instagram, claiming that the objective was to raise awareness for the children of Sainte Justine hospital. The statement issued an amended goal of donating toys according to the hospital’s needs rather than for every share to Instagram as originally promised.

The controversial video still received  2.1 million views. Over the time of this two-day campaign, the Ritz-Carlton’s Instagram account saw an increase of nearly two-thousand followers, yet the hospital’s Instagram account following remained constant.

The Ritz-Carlton Montréal representative is disappointed that people would assume that the hotel company would not honor their word. But when asked why there wasn’t more transparency behind the campaign and the deleting of their post, he refused to comment.

The representative says the Ritz-Carlton is an annual supporter of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. The luxury hotel chain has previously thrown Breakfast with Santa Claus events and have done similar campaigns in the past. They promise to deliver 500 toys on December 20th.

The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation did not reply to multiple requests for comment.


Screenshot of Instagram post.

Student Life

Dreaming of a green Christmas?

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: snow is falling, decorations are going up, and Michael Bublé has suddenly entered society’s radar again.

Crack open your wallets, ladies and gents, ‘cause it’s time to go Christmas shopping.

Last week, I made the mistake of stepping into a Winners on a Sunday afternoon. The place was jam-packed with ravenous Christmas shoppers, their carts overflowing with clothes, toys, home decor, technology, sports equipment, you name it. Simply put, it was an absolute hellscape – the shelves nearly picked clean, it felt like the apocalypse was just around the corner.

The whole experience got me thinking about the sheer amount of waste Christmas gifts produce each year. From polyester pajamas to plastic playthings, many popular presents are non-biodegradable, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, most of these items will end up in our landfills and oceans rather than our recycling facilities. Although there’s only so much the individual consumer can do, the more we are conscious of what we buy and where it goes, the more we can reduce our impact this holiday season. So without further ado, here is a list of sustainable gift ideas to try this year:



Houseplants have become insanely popular in the last decade or so. Although I personally manage to kill everything I touch, a lot of my friends are big time plant parents and are always happy to add to their collection. Also, I hate that I just said ‘plant parents.’

If you can, try to buy your plants at a local shop rather than online or at a big box retailer. Besides being a more sustainable option (usually), I find that these smaller stores have a more unique selection, and staff tend to be very knowledgeable about what species make good gifts.

Thrifted and/or Vintage Items

Not only is thrift shopping a greener option, it’s affordable too. While gifting something that is already used might seem a bit weird at first, you can find a ton of quality, beautiful items at your average charity shop—I’ve even found clothing with the tags still on. If you don’t want to spend your afternoon sifting through items in person, websites like ThredUp and Ready to Wear Again make it easy to narrow your search by size, style or brand.

If you wanna kick your thrifting up a notch, try shopping for vintage items. While this route can be a little more expensive, shopping vintage can turn up some pretty special finds, and the extra thought and care will be much appreciated. is a great online resource for vintage clothing, and Montreal is packed with all kinds of vintage shops like the Mile End’s Citizen Vintage and Local 23.


One Christmas when I was a kid, my great-uncle sponsored a polar bear in my name with the World Wildlife Fund. It was a great gift because a) I was sad about the polar bears dying, and b) it came with a cute little polar bear stuffie. This present was both low-waste AND beneficial to an environmental cause, which is pretty cool.

If your loved one has a cause that they are passionate about and you have a bit of cash to spare, consider making a donation on their behalf. Obviously, this type of thing isn’t for everyone, but if you think it will be well-received, go for it!

Items for long-term use

It’s no secret that much of what we purchase can become unusable or obsolete over time. Oftentimes, items wear out more quickly because they’re poorly made or because something newer and shinier has entered the market. While it’s normal and completely okay to replace things that are broken or utterly outdated, an investment in higher quality items that will stand the test of time is well worth it, and much less wasteful. This type of product can range from ultra-durable coffee mugs and winter boots to timeless furnishings and clothes.

Of course, this type of gift is only sustainable if the person receiving it actually has a need for it. When it comes to buying items that are meant to last for years to come, make sure you know a thing or two about the person you’re buying it for!

One last tip before I go: as you complete your December shopping, consider switching up the way you wrap your Christmas presents. Most gift-wrap is non-recyclable because of its glossy finish, so make sure you look for wrapping paper that is recyclable and/or biodegradable. Better yet, try using some old newspapers instead—topped off with a bit of ribbon or twine, I think this actually looks pretty cute. Plus it’s free, which makes it even cuter.

Happy holidays everyone!


Graphic by Salomé Blain

Student Life

Broken Pencil: Gift-giving it your all

Tips and tricks for financially feasible gift-giving over the holidays

The holidays are always a fun time to spend with your closest friends and family. Each year, it brings us joy to surround ourselves with the ones we love most. However, when it comes to buying gifts for the whole family, budgeting and planning what to get and for who can be a daunting task.

Christmas shopping was never something I had to think about as a kid (Santa Claus didn’t allow me). When you’re young, money isn’t exactly the first thing on your mind.

Now that I’m older, the task has been passed on to me, but I never realized just how difficult and expensive Christmas shopping can be. For struggling students, some of whom may or may not have part-time jobs, finding the extra money to spend even twenty bucks on four or five people can feel next to impossible.

In the past, I have helped my parents with Christmas shopping, which was a huge challenge. In my family, we try to discreetly investigate what other members of the family want, but we tend to end up more confused than we were in the first place. As we grow older, I feel like it’s always a challenge to figure out what we want for Christmas; for the most part, we have everything we could ever wish for. From toys and video games, to a pair of headphones, gift ideas come much easier in your younger years.

As students, we have many obligations that require us to spend money, which can make it difficult to be able to provide everyone in our lives with the gifts they want. Now, you don’t want to overdraft your bank account just for the holidays. I’ve never bought gifts for the whole family or my entire friend group; I usually only buy gifts for a handful of people. For example, my closest friends and I throw a small Christmas party where we buy presents for just one other person. It’s a good way to spend a small amount of money and be able to give something special to a friend.

Remember, sometimes making a gift for someone, or just spending time with family can really show them how much you care more than a store-bought item. Try taking the time to create something by hand; make a card or put together a small scrapbook of memories. Maybe take your siblings out for an afternoon of skating, or treat your mom to dinner at her favorite restaurant. The list of possibilities is endless once you get creative and work within your budget.

I used to give my parents gift ideas for the family, and that was my contribution to the shopping. This year, I plan to start by getting presents for my siblings, then I’ll see if I can afford gifts for the rest of the family. But of course, the holidays aren’t all about material things and spending money. Budgeting has helped me combat holiday-induced stress, but at the end of the day, remember to spend as much time with loved ones as you do shopping for them.

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda


Wrapping Gifts for the ones in need

The Concordia community took the time to wrap up 500 gifts for families in need.

The Commerce and Administration Student Association and the John Molson School of Business (CASAJMSB) teamed up with the organization Christmas 4 A Cause to host the Santa Supply Chain on Nov. 24 at 10 a.m.

Non-perishable foods, books, clothing and money were collected in the lobby of the JMSB building, where volunteers helped wrap up the gifts for families in need. A bake sale was also organized, with all money raised going to different families.

Marketing professor Brent Pearce is the founder of Christmas 4 A Cause and has been organizing gift wrapping events for 17 years. The organization started when his then-students proposed they have a party to celebrate the end of the 2001 fall semester. Pearce decided to make the celebration profitable for those less fortunate. “We also organize Comedy 4 A Cause, where all the profits go to buy gifts for the families,” said Pearce. He also mentioned how Christmas 4 A Cause has helped 650 families and more than 1,700 children since 2001.

Arti Sadhwani, the vice president of marketing for CASAJMSB, said their goal is to reach over 100 families this year. “We got all these gifts sponsored and we are donating them to families across Montreal,” she said. The student association managed to receive over $350 in donations and wrapped 500 gifts.

Many students and teachers stopped by the JMSB Building’s lobby to help out for the cause. Photo by Nelly Serandour-Amar

Student Life

Gifts for your Casanova

Graphic by Sean Kershaw

February 14: just one more day among the birthdays and anniversaries that makes our boyfriends squirm with panic. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to think that girls are pretty easy to shop for. Keep it traditional with flowers and chocolates; keep it simple with a home-cooked meal and a night spent together, or spoil us with jewelry. See? Easy.

What’s not easy, though, is buying a nice Valentine’s Day gift for the men in our lives. You may think that we have everything perfectly planned out, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. We don’t. Guys are pretty much the hardest to shop for because, well, you can’t really give a guy flowers and jewelry, can you?

Concordia graduate student Cheryl MacDonald is writing her thesis on masculinity and young men. According to her, flowers may not exactly be the perfect gift, depending on the guy. “Men will typically feel less masculine if given traditionally feminine gifts because our historical patterns of socialization have taught them to feel emasculated in these instances. We’re taught by our families, friends and others that certain gifts 
are meant for certain genders,” said MacDonald. She added that this is becoming less common, though.

MacDonald went on to explain that if it were not for the gendered pattern of socialization, more men would be comfortable receiving gifts typically given to women. “In fact, we’re currently seeing an increase in the number of men who are willing to break the gender barrier and reveal that they would love typically feminine gifts such as plants, flowers or spa treatments. This is not to say that all men feel this way, but there is evidence of men falling closer to the median on the gender continuum regarding this subject,” she said.

A great tip MacDonald has for seeking out the perfect gift is to focus on interests more than on gender associations. “It’s important to pay attention to a man’s likes and dislikes and show that you’ve taken the time to tune into them. When you view the gift-buying process this way, gender sometimes becomes less of a priority,” she added.

First-year English literature student Vicky Walling had similar things to say about Valentine’s Day gift-giving. “I usually try to get something for my boyfriend that I know he’ll enjoy. I think Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating love between two individuals, so I really want to spoil my man and get him something he might not get for himself.”

She said that she wouldn’t shy away from getting him more girly gifts, either. “I don’t particularly believe in gender roles. Besides, who doesn’t like jewelry or flowers? Guys are a lot more mushy than girls think,” she said. Vicky added that guys just want to know that their lovers really care for them and have made an effort to do something fun and personal. There’s no need to get a dozen roses, but maybe one simple flower will do the trick. Most importantly, Vicky says, is to just do what you’re comfortable with.

So we’ve heard what the girls have to say, but what about the guys? Concordia business student Steven Santillo said that he definitely wouldn’t expect a bouquet of flowers because “women usually get the flowers,” but he wouldn’t be bothered by it either. And he doesn’t mind jewelry. “Jewelry is great. It isn’t just an awesome gift for women, men like that stuff too.” The best gift he ever received for Valentine’s Day was a collage of photos of him and his girlfriend, with his favourite sweet treat, Ferrero Rocher, on the side.

The key to Valentine’s Day is to keep things simple. Sometimes all you need is a cute card with a heartfelt message written inside. The common thread is clear: focus on what your significant other is really interested in, and personalize the gift to show that you put a lot of thought into it. So although it may be a Hallmark holiday, there’s no harm in having a little fun on Valentine’s Day with some thoughtful and unique gift-giving to win your loved one’s heart.

Exit mobile version