How to Be Green Without Being a Grinch

Green Grinch

You need this 10 minutes in your life. Before you compile your holiday gift list. Before you go shopping. Before you make your New Year’s resolutions. You want the breath of fresh air this video will bring.

Compare those solutions to a modern vision of the holidays: mounds of colorful toys, hours opening presents, wrapping paper strewn across the room, cameras clicking and recording devices whirring. Some attentive consumers are bound to occasionally juxtapose visions of sugar plums with images of sweat shops, brimming landfills, and animals choked on plastic.

What’s a festive but ethical person to do?

As naturalists and ecologists – as any human with modern awareness of our position on the planet – we must understand that the game needs to change. We have to change ourselves to change our culture and our world. Being a conservationist means knowing what’s worth conserving, and realizing the excesses of our lifestyle are not sustainable.

But not everyone has realized change is needed. So how can you be green without being a Grinch? Especially during the holidays, when we don’t want our eco-ethics and decisions to seem Scrooge-like. There are plenty of people who still associate the holidays with gifts, and lots of them. How can we participate in the modern holiday season without making the world worse?

You can make the world better and participate in the holiday spirit by giving gifts that are:

  • Reused – There are lots of places to find wonderful, gently used gifts (for example, Goodwill).
  • Reusable – Make sure what you buy is good enough quality to last.
  • Consumable – Food, candles, and other goods that don’t permanently clutter the house are a great way to minimize what ends up in the landfill. Bonus if the container is reusable or recyclable.
  • Low-to-No-Plastic – If you haven’t heard how bad plastic is for the environment, visit Plastic Pollution Coalition.
  • Nearly Local – The less something has to travel, the lower its carbon footprint.
  • An experience (instead of a thing) – Memories last longer and make more of an impact than cheap trinkets or fads. Why not give a membership to a nature center, or a local theatre, or a museum? Even better if you join your loved ones during the experiences you give them.
  • Compassionate – There are many wonderful organizations poised to improve lives in honor of your friends and family who don’t want more junk. Heifer Inernational is a great example.
  • Wrapped eco-friendly – As a finishing touch, use biodegradable and/or easily reusable wrapping. You can present your presents well without gobs of plasticized wrap or bows.

I hope it’s clear sustainability and the holidays complement each other. When we value the best of the holiday – time with loved ones, experiences and memories, service to others – rather than disposable stuff, we improve others’ lives and our own, and have a very merry time indeed.

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