Have a Happy, Green Holiday!
So, what does that mean? I’m simply proposing that the best gift we can give our children is not the hottest toy, but instead a planet that they can live on to celebrate holidays with their own grandchildren. There are several ways that we can give them this gift by bringing “green” ideas into our usual holiday celebrations.
The best way to share this gift with them is simply to teach them the value and joy of sharing with others since working hard together with people from all different walks of life will be the most difficult and most necessary part of solving the climate crisis.
We plan to spend Thanksgiving taking Little A to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local homeless shelter. Then, we’ll head home and eat a turkey that was raised fresh on a farm just a few miles from our house. (For more on eating locally this Thanksgiving to save A LOT of CO2 emissions from food transport, see http://www.100milediet.org/thanksgiving/.)
For Christmas, we will bring her to Texas to spend the season sharing time with her extended family and friends. I also plan to give her the gift of time volunteering with me at a local humane society as a dog walker and cat petter since she LOVES animals, and we will never have a real pet at home given Mark’s allergies and our busy, transient life. There are many ways to find these types of opportunities to give your children or grandchildren, just check out your church bulletin, local library bulletin board or websites such as idealist.org, VolunteerMatch, or local chapters of national environmental groups such as The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy and others.
Another gift that emphasizes connection and sharing is to give the gift of a specific mantra or prayer. My father-in-law wrote beautifully this week about the connection between prayer and dedication, and our ability to preserve a home for our children. It’s difficult to understand the importance of focusing on the needs of the next generation when we’ve been conditioned for decades to want and need “stuff” and “excitement” immediately, but we now know that our children’s future depends on our modest sacrifice. J. Matthew Sleeth, MD and his family are living examples of the connection between spirituality and environmentalism. Read more about him here,and consider giving someone on your Christmas list his new book, Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action this year.
A very generous woman, Angel, in one of my mother’s yahoo groups, posted this description of a 10-day mantra for a material or spiritual gain. Send the receiver a card letting them know that you’ll chant this mantra on their behalf for five minutes per day for 10 days, “Om Soubhagyayei Namaha” (Om Sauw-bhahg-yah-yea Nah-mah--hah...Om and salutations to Maha Lakshmi, the bestower of supreme blessings.) If you're really ambitious, go for 108 times a day. When you chant, maintain a feeling of gratitude toward the universe for fulfilling desires. Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance. You can also light a candle for an intention or extend a yoga practice. For other generous gifts that will cost little carbon and leave little for the landfill, check out Buy Nothing Christmas ’06.
Now, for the times when kindness, spirituality and sharing need to be wrapped with a (recycled paper) bow to bring a smile to the face of your jaded nephew or fit with the décor of your mother’s annual holiday cocktail party, there are lots of options for actually buying stuff for your family and friends that will positively use the Earth’s resources.
Several excellent magazines have come out with eco-friendly gift ideas that will fit all of even the pickiest people on your list. These gift ideas are excellent. They support recycled and renewable materials, sustainably harvested wood, organic farms, and they are beautiful, creative and fun. Check out Greenlight magazine’s “50 Great Gifts,” Body + Soul’s list in the current issue, and check out Co-op America’s National Green Pages for hundred’s of ideas.
There are also several retailers that I have personally found to be trusted sources for all of my eco-gift needs. Greenfeet offers a lot of wonderful choices, and holiday coupons for their store can be found by surfing other eco-friendly sites. Taraluna is another fun eco-friendly retailer. Check out the fabulous “Holiday Lights Campaign” on their website. And for those of you who just can’t help but hit the mall on the day after Thanksgiving (aka “Black Friday”), check out the Ecomall to shop for everything from solar panels for your roof to organic baby soap.
In my opinion, the holidays are fun. I get to catch up with people who I don’t see often enough (even some who live in my house! :)) I like giving and receiving gifts, and I have a renewed joy for the season by having the opportunity to witness it anew through the eyes of my daughter. This year, I simply want to enjoy all of those things in a way that will allow my daughter and her family to do the same for generations to come.