Sunday, December 03, 2006

This Holiday Season, Show that You Care, Without the Flare

I know this goes without saying, but alas the holiday season is back again.

There are decorations everywhere to remind us of this. They’re the first sign that this time of spending is here. I actually witnessed Christmas decorations being put up in a Zeller’s on the night of Halloween. Next comes the bi-weekly heavy pile of flyers in your mail box showing all the sales and opportunities for you to spend and buy. The TV commercials and radio ads play upon our joyful spirits, all the while enticing our consumerist appetite. More of pretty much everything happens over the next few weeks compared to the rest of the year. More money is spent, more automobile trips are made and more garbage is created.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this time of year. But what I remember about the holidays are never the presents or decorations, I remember the good times spent with family and friends. The opportunity for merriment is very enjoyable. And believe it or not, this can all be just as wonderful for yourself, humanity and the environment without all the flare and excess.

When it comes to buying presents here are a few tips to help you show that you care. Avoid making purchases on “holiday junk” or items that will likely end up in the dump within a couple of years only to sit much longer than you’ll live. A prime example is all those dancing Santas that require four DD batteries. In fact, keep away from battery operated toys and gadgets wherever possible. Instead keep your eye open for ethical gifts, such as fair trade items or clothing made from sustainable clothing in socially just conditions. And don’t be self-conscious about getting someone a gift from a thrift or antique shop. Just because it’s used doesn’t mean it’s a bad gift. Reusing has been a fundamental aspect of the three R’s of environmentalism for as long as I can remember. Finally when you go shopping, don’t forget to bring your own bag, even for purchases other than groceries.

Or if you want to stay away from the craziness that is a shopping mall and save money, make the gifts yourself. It will show the person that you care. Last year I made sugar cookies and I decorated them with a stick drawing of the person I gave each cookie to. I have never been so surprised how a simple cookie can cause so many smiles.

Another idea for a good gift is to opt for service or material goods. Movie passes, theatre tickets, gift certificates for back massages, you get the idea. Services likely impact the earth much less than material goods and support the local economy. Or, consider donating money in someone’s name to a charity they would likely support. The great thing about this type of gift is that it can likely be taken care of via the internet; therefore no gas is wasted driving around.

So when it comes to unwrapping gifts, please make sure you divert all the excess paper from the landfill by recycling it. Or alternatively, don’t use any at all. Reuse those brightly coloured flyers, LCBO paper bags or old calendar pages. Or giving the wrapping a utilitarian purpose, such as a cloth lunch bag, pillow case, or picture box, is good too.

Paper can also be saved if you decide to send out e-cards instead of greeting cards. If you have to send some out, since grandma doesn’t know how to work a computer, buy cards made out of recycled paper or cards supporting various charity organisations. And when it comes to all the parties, go for cloths napkins, dish towels and china dishes instead of paper products. It will make for a way classier shindig anyway.

So this holiday season, maintain your sustainable lifestyle and strive to incorporate those values into your plans and purchases. This includes everything from decorating your potted tree that can be later planted outside, to your festive feast featuring local seasonal foods.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. I always adopt an animal or wildlife space from WWF for my loved ones for Christmas. I have never seen the point of giving materialistic items as Christmas gifts, everyone already has way too much crap cluttering their lives.