by Angela Hotaling
Preparing for the Christmas holiday is no easy task. Depending on family traditions, one is often pushed into buying many material gifts, using more energy, over-consuming, and getting really stressed out. Cultural Christmas traditions can be somewhat exhausting and can cause one to question whether it’s what they really want.
On December 20th, The Huffington Post gave some suggestions on how to alter some Christmas traditions in order to be more environmentally conscious: Send electronic holiday cards; light your tree with LED lights; use recycled magazines or newspapers to wrap gifts; and give non-material gifts (personalized coupons, park memberships, gym/exercise class gift certificates).
It’s possible that by removing some of the excess that seems to be associated with the holiday season, one might even have a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience. If we shut off our televisions and focus less on material objects, we might end up enjoying those who we are fortunate enough to be spending our holidays with.
For those who choose to wait until Christmas Eve to get a tree, the debate between whether to cut one down or buy a fake one boils down to personal choice. An NPR article about a week ago urges environmentalists to cut down trees from local tree farms. The preference to have a fresh cut tree is abundant and even though the plastic ones can be reused, they are typically shipped from out of the country and made from nonorganic materials. At least fresh trees can be composted. (We went a little more in-depth in a previous article on this site about where to get harvest-your-own trees in the area.)
Kelley Weiss from NPR says that “the gold standard is to buy a live, potted tree and plant it after the holidays.” She reports on Silveyville Tree Farm in Northern California and says that it is “a carbon-neutral operation. For every tree cut down, they plant another.”
They also avoid cutting down their whole forest during the holiday season and practice “stump culturing,” which is a process of leaving stumps and waiting for second generation trees to sprout. Co-owner to Silveyville Tree farm, Ted Seifert says, “It's just another way, instead of having to plant a tree, we just use what's there.”
This is a good way to think about celebrating the holidays; why not just use what’s there? Avoiding material gifts may not help the economy, but making small or even large changes may avoid damaging the environment and could maybe be more valuable. It is times like these that one is forced to question one’s values and weigh what’s most important.
Image courtesy of Good Housekeeping.