The Earth is the home of humans, animals, and plants. We all need it to be in good condition so that we can survive; unfortunately, Earth is being devastated and polluted so quickly that it will only continue to support us if we take the necessary steps to stop destroying it!
Every one of us can play a role in saving the Earth. Simply consume less, drive less, spend more time doing fun low-impact activities, get outside more, and advocate for others to do the same. Or, as Gandhi once put it, "Live simply so that others may simply live."
With that in mind, please consider using the following ideas for having the most compassionate Christmas as possible this year:
For the Earth
- Guess what? You don't have to do any Christmas shopping if you don't want to. Instead, you can make all your gifts at home-- what about freshly baked vegan cookies in a re-purposed jam jar? A beautiful necklace you made yourself? An exciting story written especially for the recipient? A painting, drawing, or sculpture? A useful wooden shelf, rocking horse, or stool? Dehydrated raw vegan kale chips? You can use your talents to make your presents. Not only does this (in many cases) lessen the environmental impact of creating the gift, but it also is a more useful, heartfelt gift that is less likely to end up in someone's basement or relegated to the status of "Stuff".
- Alternatively, you can treat people to special events and places as a Christmas gift. For example, you could take someone out to a show or concert.
- Giving consumables (such as vegan food, candles, and soaps) ensures that the gift almost certainly won't be wasted.
These high-quality raw vegan chips are delicious! Photo Courtesy of RawMountainFoods.com
- I'm not saying that it's completely unacceptable to purchase Christmas presents. However, it makes sense to purchase wisely. When you see something at the store that you'd like to give to someone as a Christmas present, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the person use it? Would they want this?
- Am I choosing this gift for him/her because I truly think it would make a good present, or am I merely grabbing it off the shelf because I can't think of anything else he/she would want?
- Where does this come from and what is it made of? Is there an eco-friendly alternative to this gift? (For example, if you want to get someone a notebook, consider getting them a nice notebook made from recycled paper instead of one made from freshly killed trees. Or, you could buy a locally-knit cotton scarf instead of one that's been shipped halfway across the world.)
- Am I buying expensive gifts for someone to make up for not spending enough time with them? (Please, don't do that. You don't need to buy any gifts for anyone-- you can make inexpensive heartfelt gifts instead!)
- Who (human or animal) would be impacted by my purchasing this gift? Is this a positive or negative impact?
- You can choose to ask people to make donations to your favourite charity instead of buying you more stuff for Christmas this year.
- Shop for Christmas gifts at eco-friendly stores, such as eco superstores and small, ethical shops.
- Wrap presents in recycled materials-- newspaper, scarves, comic book pages, socks, jars, cardboard boxes, etc. In their blog post, Treehugger has some cool ideas on this subject.
- Christmas isn't only about the presents, of course. What about decorations? When going to big-box stores around Christmastime, I tend to notice lots of Christmas decorations for sale. Some of these "decorations" are so ridiculously large that it shocks me (like those blow-up light-up Santas and Christmas trees that people put in their front yards), while others items for sale, although smaller, could easily pile up in someone's house as he or she gets more and more decorations year after year. Here are my recommendations:
- Don't buy a lot of new Christmas decorations if you already have enough at home! It'll only pile up later, and the Earth won't thank you for overconsuming materials taken from its precious ecosystems.
- Make your own Christmas decorations out of materials you have around the house! It could actually be really fun-- who knows what you could make out of cardboard boxes, jam jars, and old socks?
- Re-use Christmas card covers every year. If you're the type to get rid of Christmas cards a few weeks after Christmas, cut off the cover and use it again next year for someone else's Christmas card. This might sound stingy, but really-- think about all the trees people could save if we all did this!
- Please don't buy a once-living Christmas tree! Buying plastic trees isn't good, either-- it would take a long time for that "tree" to biodegrade, since it's plastic. Why not decorate a tree in your front yard, instead?
- Eat organically-grown, animal-free food on Christmas and every day.
- Please see my other posts, "Action VI: The Animal-Friendly Christmas" and "Vegan on Christmas" for tips on having an animal-friendly Christmas!