I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas
No, I don’t hate a snowy Christmas morning, I’m dreaming of a world where people are conscientious gift givers.
I’ve been in a bit of a dark mood recently, a touch of the old “Who gives a crap about any of this, the human race isn’t even going to survive another 10,000 years!”, perhaps it’s fourth year blues and FYDP stress, but it could also be a little bit of planetary existential crisis. The ramped-up discourse about the need for greater environmental action in the mainstream media, social media, and even on campus has brought me into a sense of despair over the fate of our species; why aren’t we all trying harder to save ourselves? A fun discussion in one of my classes the other day about the effects of a large igneous province event (a fancy term for terrifying volcano of death and destruction which you wouldn’t want to survive anyways because the world will be inhospitable for millennia afterwards) really brought home the point that humans definitely won’t last forever. I listen to the Omnibus podcast which is based on the premise of creating an archive of humanity for whatever “Futurelings” come after us, but lately it seems just a little… too real. Is this how Greta Thunberg feels all the time?
That said, there’s nothing like the holidays to bring back the sense of joy that is so lacking in the grey month of November. Unfortunately, once you start looking for it you begin seeing needless waste just about everywhere you look, and Christmas is, to take a line from my favourite Xmas song, “an appalling dump-heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable”. What you absolutely cannot do is get caught up dwelling on these things, you just need to do what you can to be better and help those around you see the benefits of doing the same.
Now, gift-giving and receiving is one of the best parts of this holiday, and you better believe I’m not trying to stop you overspending on the people you love! I’m here to give you a few ideas about how to make your white Christmas a little bit greener, because that’s all I can do, and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.
1. Your wishlist.
We all know this is the most important part of the holidays and it’s important to have one so that these precious once-a-year gifts are not wasted! When you’re thinking about the things you want this year, be specific when asking for items and let people know you want the brand that is more ethically-sourced or eco-friendly, or even made in North America where less shipping is required. Try adding some things to your list that are sustainable or long-lasting products or ask for experiences!
2. Buying gifts for others
It’s hard enough to tell what people want without worrying about the global impact your purchase is making so I’ll make some easy suggestions. When choosing your gifts try to find ethically-sourced alternatives to the common soap, scents, or clothes option that is the easiest to choose. Maybe check out a farmer’s market or local craft fair. It can also be nice to give more expensive eco-friendly products like beeswax wraps that people might not buy for themselves. Giving experiences like a lunch out at a nice restaurant or exercise classes or a day trip are “zero waste” options that can be more fun than an object they might not even want.
3. Gift Wrapping
Trying to avoid things which come in too much packaging aside, there are a lot of great alternatives to the typical gift wrap we all know and overuse. I’m talking newspaper, old maps, or magazines as wrapping paper, shredded documents as gift bag stuffing, and re-purposed cereal boxes to conceal the gift. Six-pack beer holders can be re-used to make a portable gift box for smaller presents… or just gift them some different beers! And just because we’re trying to avoid waste doesn’t mean we’re avoiding decoration! Use strips of old t-shirts to make ribbons for the packages (these make great headbands for later!) or draw on a plain cardboard box to add some interest to a package without wrapping.
I hope some of these tips are useful. Wishing everyone a merry end of term and a happy exam season!