Tuesday, November 30, 2010

3 Ways to Stay Green During the Holidays

There's going to come a time in the not-too-distant future when our kids are going to look at us with disgust when we discuss some of the not-so-eco-friendly choices we used to make; much like the way we currently look at people when they talk about not putting kids in car seats or smoking inside the house. Our resources are running out at an alarming rate, and for that and other reasons, more people are coming into consciousness about our impact on the earth.

One place that our consciousness has not evolved quickly enough is in our approach to the holiday season, so for that reason I'm going to do Raising a Revolutionary's first-ever Top-Three list. This:

3 Ways to Stay Green During the Holidays

1. Forget the debate over the plastic or the cut tree. Neither. If you simply have to have a Christmas tree, "because we have kids," or whatever reason, choose a live one. Buy it from a local nursery, looking trimmed and lovely in a large pot. Put it in your home for a week or so, and then plant it in your yard or donate it to a piece of land that needs it. In our case, we've used the same little guy three years running, and will finally plant it this year. It doesn't get much greener than that.

2. Assess needs vs wants. I almost cringe when someone asks me, "what does your daughter need for Christmas?" My response is usually "nothing," because i have a hard time believing a girl who has healthy food and clean clothes to wear needs almost anything at all, especially in comparison to the precious little that children possess in so many other places. But the reality is, she has grandparents and aunties and other people who feel the need to buy gifts, and it's hard to say no all together. I would like to be that austere, but alas.

So besides the obvious suggestions of "buying fewer gifts" or "asking for a charity donations in your name" in order to stay green, there's the added option of asking for specific things that your family might desire, but may be less tangible than a new pair of jeans. Ask for a CSA membership, grocery gift cards, piano lessons, art museum passes, or some other enriching activity in the stead of needless stuff. Be specific, because if you don't, your loved ones will be compelled to buy the jeans.

3. Get the wrapping under wraps. Seriously, multiple garbage bags left over from your family's tear-through of the things under the tree? Even if it can be recycled, (which much of it can) it's easy to fall prey to the biggest oversight among the 3 R's of Recycling: forgetting the "reusing" bit. If you have gifts to exchange, use a gift bag, and hopefully, a reusable one made from non-synthetic fibers. It might have looked ghetto a few years back, but in a few years it will look ghetto if you don't do it.

At some point, it's just going to be out to be a stuff-monger. Get ahead of the game and help green the holidays right now.


Schmutzie said...

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday!

Nicole Vulcan said...

Thanks for featuring me!

Jack said...

Hello, my young friend. Sunday morning, I'm surfing my favorite sites, and it's a pleasant surprise to find you back. Congratulations on having your blog singled out for excellence; I certainly will voice no protest over that!

So, I see this is the fifth day this has been up, and the silence is deafening. I can hear the ring announcer now: "In this corner, Nicole. And in this corner, Everybody Else!" This train has a lot of momentum built up, but I agree with you, it needs stopping, or at least, slowing down. With your permission, let me add another hand on the brake.

If you were to construct a pie chart showing the reasons for runaway Christmas spending, I imagine a big slice of it would be attempting to give the largest/coolest/priciest gift to a child in your life. The ulterior motive [and isn't there always one?] would most likely be to be seen by that child as the "favorite" relative, whatever that means. Now, I don't recall, as a child, ever liking a jerk relative more because he got me the flashiest gift. My childhood was a long time ago, and memory is never what we'd like it to be, but here is my modern experience with this: When our son married his wife, that union also brought together two other couples of very different backgrounds who would become the grandparents of their children. The other grandparents' chief interest, talent, and field of endeavor is in the accumulation and display of wealth. This isn't a knock on them; it's pretty much a description of the American mainstream's lifestyle. Bonnie and I tend to measure the value of an activity or thing by how much knowledge, growth, or enjoyment we can take from it. Christmas and birthdays roll around, and they buy the four grandkids i-pods, cell phones, video game systems, powered riding toys, just fill in the blank; nothing you can name is off the wish list. We buy them Legos, activity books, off-brand Barbie-type dolls, you get the picture. Over there, the kids are plopped down in front of an HD television the size of a Chevy Suburban, and left to entertain themselves. If they watch TV at our house, it's nature and science from PBS on a 24" pre-HD set. We're much more likely to play with them, pull practical jokes, sit down with those activity books and do all the silly things they contain, or take them someplace fun or stimulating. Guess where they ask to go when they're offered a choice.

What I'm trying to say with all this verbage is, don't be afraid to stop competing with Uncle Harry for the "coolest present" crown. It's not going to matter at the end of the day. Instead of spending $400.00 for the latest game system, spend $40.00. Take the children to a Pixar movie, and laugh your butt off with them. Buy them an ice cream afterward, and find a museum where they can get nose-to-nose with a full-size dinosaur. They'll remember that long after the fancy new toy is broken and buried in the local landfill. You CAN buy a child's affection; you do it with your time, interest, and love.

All right, as Marsha Ball would say, "That's enough of that stuff!" It's good to see you back on here, and apparently fighting the good fight, if this post is any indication, but the suspense is killing me . . . Did you move?

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole Vulcan said...

@jack - Didn't move -- I can't make that decision or take that action so quickly. Thanks for the input -- I totally agree!

Jack said...

That's cool. Moving is a decision that will make itself, if it hasn't already. I don't know whether you'll get anything out of this, but for your consideration:

Life is a river that carries you along. You can lie back and float, and enjoy the scenery along the journey, throw yourself into what attracts you and refuse to take part in the ugliness, or you can thrash, and struggle, and fight the current every foot of the way, but in the end, you're going down the river anyway.

Chad said...

Hello Nicole! Your tips for a green holiday is so nice. I love the Christmas tree tip since it keeps the tree alive! You're right. Nothing could be greener than that! Keep on blogging about green living! Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth Landry's Creations said...

One of the ways that I am doing my small part for keeping Christmas green is (and birthdays as well) is decorating reusable tote bags. Not perfect but it helps.