Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing our Christmas

While I haven't heard Elvis croon "I'll hahahave a bluuuue Christmas..." yet this season, I know that the clock is ticking. I watched the big box stores swap their layouts almost as soon as the last trick-or-treater had stepped off the porch. I'm just hoping that more of them will be singing the praises of a "green" Christmas this year.

What, you ask, would that actually mean?

Well here's my wish list:
1. Don't Buy at All (i.e. Make)
2. Buy Green
3. Buy Fair Trade

First off, let's get the first complaint about green retail out of the way - You can't buy your way out of our environmental situation! This is true, I agree, but, BUT, understand that we as a nation of consumers have been cruising along with little concern for what our purchases actually mean for way too long. People of course can just not buy anything, non-consumption is a very green thing to do. Not an easy thing, but definitely if you take a year off from Christmas you are doing a positive thing for your carbon footprint. Instead of buying something, you can also make your gifts. Give photos you've taken, or if you are crafty, paint some pottery or create something from re-used materials. If you aren't so crafty or strapped for time - donate in your loved one's name at OXFAM or at one of our many needy charities like Metropolitan Ministries.

However, If you are going to buy, then buy green. I encourage us all to consider how powerful a decision we wield this time a year. We get to buy, make, invent, paint, whatever we want for those close to us as an expression of our care for them and as a reflection of our values only once a year. So before we all just take the year off, let's consider that. If I buy my little brother a shirt, he might wear it. If I buy him an organic shirt, he might change how he thinks about organics and buy one for himself. This is how grassroots change works - one little step at a time.

Besides just buying green, there also many wonderful fair trade options for gifts. If I buy my mom a necklace from the mall she will certainly like it (or pretend to for my benefit), but what if I buy one from a fair trade artisan? Then she can know that whether she wears the necklace or not, the money for it went to help those that really need it and they were paid fairly for it!

Ask those that have you on their list to give something handmade this year or to donate a gift in your name to your favorite charity. The holidays are a great chance to show those we love that we can make a difference. Instead of crowding the tree with gadgets that will eventually crowd the landfill, let's push a little wave of hope out into the universe when we gather this year.

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