Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Low Impact Holidays

Greenies may do a great job at all of those small actions that add up throughout the year but when December rolls around, things get sticky. Travel, shopping, traffic jams, shipping, etc. all seem like just another part of the holiday season that we can all too easily blindly accept at this time of year. I've been trying to remind myself that Christmas doesn't have to be completely at odds with ecological responsibility. For inspiration, I've been checking out New American Dream's useful tips on simplifying the holidays here.

Here are the main steps I'm taking this year to reduce my ecological footprint during the holiday season:

1. Location, location, location. Like others this holiday season (see good posts here and here), I am trying to support independent, local businesses when shopping for the Christmas presents on my list. I think that the idea of a buynothingchristmas is great, but putting that in to practice this year isn't going to happen. The discussion over at Laurie's pretty much sums it up for me too. My family exchanged gifts at Thanksgiving since we're not going to be together for Christmas, and we tamed the spending madness by setting a dollar limit. We were able to find gifts at independent businesses, and I think it was a success.

Now we're in the middle of shopping for my husband's side of the family, and the goal is to spend our dollars at local, non-chain stores. (By local I mean within a vicinity of about ten miles, but preferably even closer.) I like to buy gifts that educate, inspire or are practical in some way...oh yeah, and that won't break the bank. So we'll be hitting the great toy store down the street (filled with toys that don't require batteries or make the parents feel insane when the same song repeats again and again), a fabulous independent bookstore not far from here, a nearby book and cd shop that carries a diverse selection of music (and the owner lets you open up the cds and have a listen over the store's stereo first), and the local Ten Thousand Villages for fairly traded hand-made goodies.

2. Waste Begone! I have a passion for using reusable bags (hey, there's a great gift idea...), so I am determined not to be caught without one of my hemp shopping bags when a gift buying opportunity crops up. Our families are used to getting gifts from us wrapped in the Sunday comics or re-used wrapping paper with gift tags made from last year's holiday cards, so I'll be continuing that tradition as well. I'm going to have to ship some of the gifts though, so there's no avoiding packaging all together. I've been saving boxes and packing materials, so I can reuse those but it's not ideal.

3. A Spoonful of Hope. I know that I am blessed to have the luxury of contemplating how to have a greener Christmas when so many others will just be continuing the search for clean water, a stable food supply, and a warm shelter. So I've added another gift to my list: a package of honey bees and a hive from Heifer International for a family to use in creating a reliable source of income. (As an aside, Barbara Kingsolver wrote a great essay about Heifer's positive effect in Peru in the latest issue of Mother Earth News. The article is not online, but check it out at the library or pick up a copy of the magazine...then share it with a friend.)

Is this Christmas going to be an all-local, all-organic, all-independent, waste-free celebration of charitable giving? Not quite. But it is going to be a little greener and a little sweeter.


  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    I was just introduced to Heifer International--what an amazing organization! The more it is plugged, the better.

  • At 8:31 PM, Blogger lauren said…


    I just found the Kingsolver essay on Heifer's website if anyone is interested in reading it.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger marigolds2 said…

    Hey there! Thanks for the visit via Carnival of the Green. This is a great blog, and I will visit often. Ours is a political group blog, so I often write about other stuff. I'd really like to be able to just concentrate on environmental issues, as that is my passion. But when the others are railing on about the atrocities in Iraq, I feel silly writing about - oh, reuseable bags, for instance, you know? Although I am a passionate reuser of bags, have canvas bags in both of our vehicles, and have discovered a great place to get some bags that keep produce fresh for an amazing period of time, but are not plastic. Anyway, come back and visit any old time. - Mary Ellen (marigolds2) from The Blue Voice.

  • At 6:35 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    Welcome Mary Ellen! I was impressed with the breadth of political coverage at The Blue Voice. I'll be sure to check back often. With our democracy seeming to crumble by the day as the death toll in Iraq mounts, bloodshed continues in Darfur, and Congress focuses on a budget bill that many have rightly called immoral, I can get completely overwhelmed. I'm passionate about the environment too, and sometimes coming back to the simple solutions for complex environmental problems makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something in the face of the disempowerment that many of us feel.

    By the way, I'd love to learn more about these non-plastic bags that keep produce fresh!


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