17 November 2014

Green Christmas

It seems early, but then I want to get this post up before Black Friday. Christmas has become, for many people, a holiday of massively commercial proportions. Hannukah isn't far behind. With the commercialism comes a massive environmental impact. So here are some ideas about how to minimize the impact.


Consider making gifts, if you can, or buying from a craft market featuring the creations of local artisans, rather than buying on Amazon (with all that shipping and packaging) or Walmart (of the dismal labor record). Think about gifts that the recipient can use and enjoy -- food? -- rather than things that will need to be stored indefinitely.


Food waste is a major contributor to over-consumption, with estimates for how much of our food we throw away ranging from 30 to 50 percent. As you plan your holiday meal, or meals, think about food waste. We all cook extra to make sure everyone will have enough to eat. Can you make plans to freeze leftovers for future use? Make the turkey bones into soup, maybe even with leftover vegetable side dishes?


There's the packaging that stuff comes in. Would you consider choosing purchases based on the amount of packaging? Amazon comes to mind again. But making stuff by hand or buying locally also has good potential to reduce packaging. Then there's wrapping paper. We keep a box of used wrapping paper; other families use cloth wrapping bags and reuse them every year; others use the comics section of the newspaper for wrapping.


With family in Europe and across the US, I travel a lot, and I often end up flying instead of using ground transport, and I often travel by car rather than on trains or buses. So I feel a bit hypocritical including this category. But the point is for everyone to think about areas where they can cut back, and different things will work for all of us. Think about carpooling or, if possible, taking a train or a bus to your destination. Shopping locally can also limit driving time.


The Hershey corporation has made a commitment to ending the use of child labor in its source chains... by 2020. You can end child labor in your own chocolate today by purchasing fair trade chocolate.

Happy holidays, y'all.