An eco-friendly Christmas?

Shopping frenzy to show our love?

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and togetherness. For many it’s a happy, joyous time of year. But it’s also a time when we drive around madly, feeling obliged to shop for everyone on our list. Each year we also use millions of plastic bags, throw out tonnes of packaging and food, and try to buy just about everything in sight.

Is this good for us? Our children? Are there better ways to show our love for each other and the world?

To help you indulge the Christmas spirit and show goodwill on Earth, here are three basic strategies:

  1. Christmas giftsChoose local, healthy, environmentally sound gifts;
  2. Buy fewer, better gifts;
  3. Seek out non-materialist pleasures and activities.

Local & Healthy

Whenever possible, buy from local, independent stores and services. This strengthens the local economy,saves energy, and helps foster healthy diversity. Look for local food, beverages, crafts, services, music and entertainment. Good places to try include the local farmers market, flea markets and Christmas events.

“Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for god’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.” – George Monbiot

Any gift worth giving should offer genuine pleasure or utility for more than a fleeting moment. Otherwise it is just a waste, soon to be fodder for the landfill. In addition, the gift’s production, use and disposal should be socially and environmentally sound. Be sure to read the label and ask questions about its manufacture, origin and ingredients. If credible information isn’t given, don’t buy it.

If possible, a gift shouldn’t impose cost and inconvenience, such as batteries, storage or maintenance requirements. Look for toys that minimize or eliminate battery use. For example, rather than a battery-powered car, consider a bicycle, tricycle or skateboard. Not only will it save you money, but it will be healthier, longer lasting, and much better for the environment.

Christmas greed

Quality not Quantity

Rather than trying to shop for everyone on your list, consider sharing or rotating gift-giving responsibilities. Why not draw names from a hat and have each person give just one gift? Or, pool together your money for a shared meal, outing or other purchase. This can result in more time for celebrating – and less time spent chasing around.

It’s also a good idea to keep receipts and make it easy for the recipient to make an exchange. Better yet, consider gift certificates for local services or green, ethical retailers who really add something to your community.

Think Before You Buy

A hundred times each day we are urged to buy, buy without thought. The latest fashion, the newest gizmo, the most recent distraction. But with a little practice we can rise above the hype. We can make up our own minds and make choices that reflect our love for each other and the planet. To me, this is what Christmas is about.

The Best Things in Life…

My best memories of the holiday season are not gifts, but good times with family and friends. Christmas parties, nature walks, shared stories and games. Perhaps if we paid as much attention to these aspects of the season, we’d be the better for it.

Green gift ideas

• local food and drink (organic if possible)
• a gift certificate for your skills or services
• a donation or membership to a local nonprofit
• local or fairly traded crafts
• your own craft, poem, artwork or story
• gear for non-motorized outdoor sports
• a gift certificate for a garden, bike or bookstore
• tickets to a local screening or production
• a bicycle, backpack or bus pass
• a ticket for a workshop or course

Just bad ideas…

• Battery operated or motorized toys
• Dry-cleaned clothing
• Perfumes, scented soaps & lotions
• Disposable or over-packaged items
• Anything that can’t be returned or exchanged
Christmas wastefulness

More:

– Peter Blanchard

Ottawa tornado: one month later

This is what climate change looks like.

True, you can’t prove that this specific tornado was caused by climate change. But there’s an abundance of evidence that climate change is causing more frequent and severe extreme weather events — and that climate change is caused primarily by humans. So while we can’t prove this tornado was entirely caused by climate change, the chances are pretty good it would have been less powerful or occurred somewhere else. 1600 homes damaged or destroyed. So the next time you hop on an airplane, or choose fossil fuels over solar or pedal power: think again. What are you doing to your neighbours, your children, maybe even yourself? This is what climate change looks like. We all need to kick the fossil-fuel habit as best we can!

More: Ottawa tornado | How to help (more) | Climate change action

Ottawa tornado destruction

Continue reading “Ottawa tornado: one month later”

Plastic is in your poo, you’re eating it:

“A study has detected microplastics in human excrement for the first time, raising larger questions about how the tiny particles can affect our health.” – EcoWatch | “We’re eating plastic without even realising it.” – Huffington Post | “We are eating our waste — mismanagement has come back to us on our dinner plates” – Chelsea Rochman.

More: Microplastics Detected in Human Stool Samples for First Time | Plastic Has Been Found In Human Poo For The First Time (Huffington Post) | More: Microplastics in human stool (news) | Microplastics health effects

What you can do: Easy ways to reduce your plastic wasteWhat can you do about plastic pollution? | How to reduce microplastics | Single use plastics | Poster

Top 5 plastic polluters: Nestlé, Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola  (Greenpeace | CBC)

The environment is not something “out there”. We become the chemicals we eat, we drink, we breath. There’s no separation. It’s time to stop single use plastics!

Plant a tree, grow a forest!

BE THE CHANGE! Plant a tree | Ecological restoration | Eco-friendly gardening | Urban forestry | Eco-gardening jobs & volunteering | Grow local food | Woodlot stewardship | Sustainable forest management …

“To save the lives of our children, what would we not do?”

If you care about our children, and haven’t watched this extraordinary 10 minute speech by @Elizabeth May you need to do so right now…

“The good news is we still have a chance to save ourselves. To save the lives of our children, what would we not do? We as homo sapiens, the clever species, the smart ones, have at most 10 to 12 years to ensure that we stop greenhouse gas emissions. We are stepping up. We are going to rescue everybody…” — Elizabeth May | Youtube | Facebook

Climate change jobs, volunteering, more:  GoodWork.ca/be-the-change

Read more, take action:

Elizabeth May:

Take action:

Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is

“After the panicky IPCC report on climate change, it’s easy for pessimism to set in — but that would be conceding defeat. Climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. A bunch of her friends posted variations on “we’re doomed” and “it’s hopeless”, which perhaps made them feel that they were in charge of one thing in this overwhelming situation, the facts. They weren’t, of course. They were letting understandable grief at the news morph into an assumption that they know just how the future is going to turn out. They don’t.

There’s no time for wallowing in denial or despair! It’s time for individual and collective action, not avoidance! Our lives depend on it.

Full story: Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is | Rebecca Solnit | Opinion | The Guardian

Guardian: ‘Feeling “This is too big for me” is no use to anybody’ 

Grist: U.N. climate report shows civilization is at stake if we don’t act now

Denial or despair?

How do you feel about social and environmental problems?

Overflowing dumpsterSome people deny there’s a problem — surely nature, God or the government will take care of things.

Others, maybe after learning a bit more, suddenly feel exactly the opposite: the problem is enormous, overwhelming, nothing can be done!

But both these extremes are emotional cop-outs — sad excuses for cynicism, apathy and inaction.

Each of us needs to find the middle ground: neither denial nor despair. To find the courage to care, but without letting our fears and uncertainties overwhelm us. In every situation, the answer is simple: to do the right thing, as best as we can.

Because that’s what being fully alive is all about.

Just do what you can, as best as you can. No more and no less. But really do it, grab it by the horns! No avoiding, making excuses, hiding your head in the sand.

You've changedAre you doing your best? Are you fully applying your gifts, your skills, your creativity? Are you leading, not waiting to be led? Could you take a leap, launch a project, even change careers to something more green and meaningful?

If our eyes are open, there’s no denying what needs to be done. And for better or worse, there’s no escape from this wonderful and troubling world. So let’s choose the third option, the only happy option: positive action.

Rather than worrying about the future, let’s focus on all the great, positive, meaningful things we can do, today.  Our guiding light need not be “can I save the world?”, it’s a self-defeating question to say the least. But rather: “Am I using my gifts, my life to its fullest, while I’m here on this planet?”

So let’s turn off the TV and other distractions. It’s time to stand up and take positive action in our homes, workplaces and communities, like never before. At this enormous moment in history, how can you and I rise to the challenge?

— Peter Blanchard


Find the light within yourself“The question is not ‘can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.” — Julia Butterfly Hill

“The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” — Paulo Coelho

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” — Edmund Burke

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” — Dale Carnegie

“The future will be what you contribute to and create.” — Greg Lake

More: https://www.goodwork.ca/jobs/be-the-change-48066

What do you think? What is the right thing to do in these crazy times? Share your thoughts and comments