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I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

December 9, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

For too long the spirit of the holiday season has been lost in the whirlwind of mad shopping frenzies. What should be the most peaceful and joyous time of the year is overshadowed by this crazy notion that we must exhaust ourselves and our wallets buying a ton of stuff.  While the sentiment of gift-giving is redeeming, it still seems that all this insanity is a sign of holidays gone wrong.

Discouraging copious amounts of shopping is a funny thing for a retailer to do, I know, but when I opened my store it was not so people would have a place just to buy yet more stuff. My goal is to offer good, quality alternatives to things that people really need and want. My belief is that when you buy something of quality that lasts a long time and pay a reasonable price for it so that the people who made the item are paid a fair wage, consumption is curbed and that is better for the planet. And that is something I hope people think about this holiday season. Instead of just buying things for the sake of buying them, consider what you are buying, its impact on the environment, the packaging that it comes in, the people who made it, and the store you are buying it from. After all, do we really want an economy based on the consumption and purchasing of a bunch of stuff that no one really needs or wants that will end up in a landfill or incinerator in an average of 6 months? And do we really want this to be the center of our holiday celebrations?

This holiday season I am hopeful that people will think about that. Of course we want a thriving economy, and a holiday full of surprises, but is there a better way?

Here are some ideas that my customers have been sharing with me for bringing the holidays back to a sane place.

  • Make an agreement with family and friends that your gift exchange will be an eco-friendly one. Give things like waste-free lunch supplies, an eco-bag for shopping, or something unique like glass drinking straws or a snack bowl made from recycled record albums.
  • Have a trimmed-down gift exchange by going grab-bag or secret Santa-style, where each family member is assigned one person to shop for.
  • Instead of gift-giving being the main focus of celebrations, sing songs, read stories, make decorations, play games, or trim the tree on Christmas Eve together.
  • Have a vegan holiday dinner. This is better for the planet and you can get super creative with plant-based foods and the layering of flavors. Check out VegWeb for recipes.
  • Wrap gifts in 100% recyclable, recycled, or reusable wrapping. Use clever things like old maps, take-out menus, children’s artwork, fabric, and embellishments like buttons or pinecones. Any paper with metallic designs are not recyclable.
  • Use nature to decorate, like holly branches, pinecones and acorns, popcorn and cranberries, and soy wax candles.
  • Take mass transit to visit relatives and friends instead of driving.
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