“What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life…”
— Erich Fromm
Yup. Another year to reflect on how we try to be good green divas during the holidays. Not always so easy, but we keep learning and hopefully getting better.
Listen to this year’s holiday show. Some great tips for minimizing waste and being more mindful of the environment and the impact we have with our various holiday traditions (or holiday commercialism gone mad).
The Christmas Tree Dilemma:
Real or Fake?
One might think that buying a fake Christmas tree would likely be the most environmentally sustainable way to go, but… Did you know that most trees are made from PVC plastic (polyvinyl chloride). It’s a VERY naughty plastic that never stops releasing or leaching toxic chemicals into your airspace. Even if you keep it for 20 years, which some studies say makes it equivalent to cutting a fresh Christmas tree (we are skeptical about that), it ends up in a landfill, where it never stops it’s shedding of nasty toxic chemicals. Never. Ugh. Not to mention that around 75% of them are made in China and shipped here, which is another boatload of greenhouse gases expelled. Bummer.
According to USA Today, over 10 million fake trees are sold each year in the US alone.
The thing with real trees is that they are grown on farms — many of which use pesticides unfortunately. The types of trees grown don’t contribute to carbon dioxide reduction until they are about 20 years old, but they are cut way before that, so it really doesn’t make a difference in terms of GHG mitigation.
The bottom line? IF you can find a tree that is grown locally and hasn’t been treated with pesticides, it is definitely better than fake. Honestly, the research says any real tree is better, but we’d like to go that extra step if possible.
Better yet, maybe forgo a live, cut or fake holiday tree. Got a big houseplant? Maybe get creative in any number of ways with books or other holiday tree designs.
When all else fails, maybe try some yummy vegan eggnog? spiked or not, it’s easy, healthy & delicious!
Our motto now is buy less, make more, and when we have to buy, we always try to buy local and if we can’t buy local we make for damned sure it is sustainably made, recyclable, and as eco-friendly as possible! And now, since we are mostly shopping online, we highly recommend reviewing our post and podcast about how to make that as eco-friendly as possible.
Here are a few ways to create magic and meaning in the season while staying safe and healthy, while reducing the impact on momma earth
- Peace starts within ~ if I want to have a more peaceful and fun holiday season, I have to take darn good care of myself from the inside out. And wow does this take on a new meaning this year! While some things may be less stressful if we don’t have a big crowd this year, in other ways it could mean more planning and engineering to make it all work. Whatever it is, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint, so take good care and it will be a lot easier for you and those around you! Read my post about personal energy conservation for the holidays.
- Remembering the Reason for the Season ~ whatever holiday you celebrate, try not to be sucked into the commercial marketing aspect of it or the expectations of those that ARE sucked in. Be who you are and shine your love on those around you. No really. I’m not going to get too philosophical, but I’m not sure if there is any religion or belief system (that is a positive one) that being kind and loving and generous isn’t a theme. Be generous from a safe distance. That is all.
- Make stuff ~ I used to do a lot of crafty stuff with my kids and grand kids, and I’m sure that will happen again (hopefully 2021 will be a better year for together projects). In the meantime, I have gotten out my knitting stuff and other solo projects. Sometimes food is the best craft. Just sayin. I won’t be making my annual holiday frosty strawberry squares with Roberta Wilson this year, but I’m confident we’ll do it again next year. Make this amazing vegan hot cocoa gift for friends and family (and yourself). It’s always a huge hit!
- Forgiveness is a great gift ~ (mostly a gift to yourself) This time of year can often bring up wounds and resentments from the past. There’s an emphasis on family and some folks would rather not think about Christmas’ past. Hey, not being able to gather together safely could be helpful to some folks, but keeping resentments isn’t good for you. Listen to Green Diva Meg & Weenie Greenie Julie Bond Genovese in this excellent episode of GD Spirit Pub about forgiveness.
- Buy less ~ I stopped buying crappy plastic stocking stuffers and filler years ago, and I spend a lot of time coming up with USEFUL and cool items, many of which are locally crafted (by real artisans as opposed to my goofy attempts). As a family, we decided years ago to give up the multi-gift crazed thing for Christmas and just focus on handmade items and stockings. We spend less money, consume less packaging in store-bought items, and use much less wrapping paper, but we all have a great time getting creative. I prefer getting a few meaningful gifts than a mess of haphazard (even expensive) gifts.
- Regift ~ seems like a cardinal sin or something, but honestly, we just have way too much stuff and there’s no reason to generate more stuff! I have jewelry to pass down to my girls, or books or special things from my mother and grandmother that have infinitely more meaning to them than anything I could buy at the store (well almost anything).
- Buy local ~ I rarely go into a shopping mall EVER, and now I loathe the thought even more. I’m proud to say that I have not stepped foot in a mall between Thanksgiving and New Years in many years now. I have my favorite local shops I go to for the few gifts I don’t make or regift. I am fortunate that I live an an extremely cool little town and I enjoy visiting the store owners and sharing my dollars with them, especially during the holiday season.
- Stick to healthy routines ~ It’s a wonderful season to visit with friends and family and attend all those fun parties, but it’s not necessary to toss out all your healthy ways (or become the super annoying vegan drag at the party). There are a lot of ways to maintain balance even if your friends and family are not. Here’s a fun Green Divas Foodie-Philes featuring Jerry James Stone about how he has a healthy vegan/vegetarian holiday season:
- Ease up on the decorations ~ for the love of whatever god you believe in (0r none at all), PLEASE don’t create a blow-up doll village on your lawn! I’m sure I’ve offended someone (sorry), but they are probably manufactured in China of questionable plastic fabric, and they use up more energy than we should be wasting on this stuff. Minimize the blazing lights not only for the energy savings, but there is a thing called light pollution, which is serious and we could light up the sky with some neighborhoods that compete for who can be most creative with their holiday light extravaganzas. Listen to this Green Dude segment featuring Dark Ranger, Kevin Poe who talks about light pollution.
fun recipe to make your own piney potpourri from Christmas tree clippings and fallen pine needles!
- Gratitude & giving always works ~ even if your family sucks and the world seems bleak for you this season, I bet there is someone who has it worse off than you. Get your gratitude on and get creative with safe ways to be generous with your time, love, kindness, energy, whatever you have to give. You don’t have to spend money to give amazing gifts, and nothing gets me out of a funk like helping someone who has less. Read my post from last year on how to Be the Light during the holidays.
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December 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm
These are awesome tips and such a great reminder! It is so easy to get caught up in all the “stuff” of the holiday season and forget to take care of ourselves and to just relax and remember what it is really all about.