Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Have a Sustainable Christmas

This week's newspaper column.

For your piano-side Yule tide singing pleasure – a sustainable Christmas Carol sung to the tune of Deck the Halls.

Deck the Walls with stuff from China,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
Cough up dough and cut the whinin’.
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
Don we now name-brand apparel,
Fa-La-La, La-La-La, La La La.
What to buy for old Aunt Carol?
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.

See the blazing mall before us,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
Stand in line and join the chorus,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
Fight the traffic and the weather,
Fa-La-La, La-La-La, La La La.
Maxing cards out altogether,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.

Fast away the paycheck passes,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
iPods for the lads and lasses,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.
All stressed out for Christmas season,
Fa-La-La, La-La-La, La La La.
Can’t remember quite the reason,
Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La La-La.

In the run-up to Christmas, shopping can be stressful, especially in a sprawled-out world where disconnected strip malls are only accessible by traffic-jammed roads, and angry anxious shoppers over-crowd big box stores. Yet the expectations are clear; we all enjoy exchanging gifts and watching children light up when they rip into their Christmas morning treasure.

Maybe having a greener Christmas can take some of the stress out of it all.

First, keep in mind that you do not have to buy presents for everyone, even if you intend to give something to everyone.

Make something. A hand-drawn card, a crocheted scarf, a handsome birdhouse assembled from recycled lumber – the possibilities are endless.

You may say “I’m not artistic. I can’t make anything.” No Worries.

Do something. Enhance the experience of gift-giving by participating in the gift itself. Take a friend to the museum, rake the leaves in your grandparent’s yard, give your wife a gift certificate for foot rubs – be creative and you may see your gift flower into something even more sustainable.

Now I am not suggesting that people should stop buying Christmas presents altogether. Beyond the macro-economics of it all, it is a wonderful and heart-felt experience to give or receive a shiny new fill-in-the-blank.

But there is a greener way to shop.

Be selective. Look for quality over quantity. Buy something well-crafted, not some trinket that you know, deep down, will wind up in a landfill a few months on. Buy something built to last.

Buy Local. Use your purchasing power to support artisans, farmers, and businesses near you. Look around; the perfect present could be right around the corner - a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or store in your neighborhood, a painting from a local artist, a basket of seasonal veggies from the farmer’s market. Again, be creative, keep an eye out for opportunities, and you can help sustain your local environment.

So be a little greener, and not quite so red this holiday season. And have a very sustainable Christmas.

1 comment:

Justin T said...

Hi James! This is a great post. Thank you for helping us keep it in perspective! I hope you and V have a great Christmas.