by Marleigh Powell, Church Outreach intern
Many people celebrating the birth of Jesus follow in his footsteps of gathering and eating together. In the 21st century, these celebrations often include traveling in fossil fuel-burning vehicles, eating large amounts of food, and giving and receiving gifts. Unfortunately, our actions and purchases have a wider impact than what we see in front of us. Our polluting actions affect our global neighbors by creating extra waste and contributing to climate change. This holiday season, we wanted to share with you some ways to celebrate Christmas in a “green” way that cherishes the world God created and the people in it.
Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year to go visit our friends and family. However, there are carbon costs associated with these travels. By imputing your flight or car journey into our carbon footprint calculator at climatestewardsusa.org/offset, you can see how much CO₂ you are emitting. You can then choose to compensate for your carbon emissions by funding projects that help our global neighbors who are being hurt first and worst by climate change. These projects include growing trees, and providing clean cookstoves, fireless cookers, and water filters. Our partner projects not only cut carbon but also bring multiple benefits to people and places – saving time and money spent on buying or gathering fuel, improving health, and boosting local biodiversity.
Many companies such as Amazon, Target, or Walmart provide gift wrapping that is biodegradable, glitter-free, or made of recycled materials. You can also choose to go without tape and use string or a ribbon to hold the wrapping paper instead to ensure your wrapping paper is recyclable. Additionally, consider using household items such as newspapers or a fabric tote bag you already own to reduce waste and save money on wrapping paper. These simple switches are an easy first step to cutting your footprint this season.
Giving Experiences Rather Than Things
Rather than gifting material items that may go unused or end up in a landfill, consider gifting an experience this Christmas. Hike, take a trip to a local botanical garden, or buy a voucher for something such as a cooking or yoga class to give a meaningful experience and shared memory. Sites such as Groupon offer deals on experiences in your area. These kinds of gifts are not only more significant but also more sustainable.
In order to be sure what you are placing in your bin is actually getting recycled, you have to take a few precautionary steps. First, you must ensure that your product is clean! Recycling centers do not accept plastics or other products that are covered in food or drink and they will ultimately get thrown away. Additionally, make sure that your local waste company picks up the type of plastic you are recycling. Plastics have a recycling symbol with a number inside of them that indicates the type of plastic they are. Most local pick-up services accept plastics 1 and 2 while others are not always as commonly accepted.
Local recycling centers may need to dispose of special plastics and things such as batteries, paint cans, and electronics. You can drop off many of these types of items to keep them out of the landfill. When recycling wrapping paper, make sure to take off the tape; otherwise, it can’t be recycled. Additionally, do not recycle wrapping paper with glitter. For more guidance, visit the EPA website for help with recycling.
Sourcing Meals Locally
Another way to make your Christmas gatherings environmentally friendly is to source your holiday meal locally. Consider going to your town’s farmer’s market to pick out your Christmas dinner ingredients or including more greens and plant-based ingredients rather than meats. Shopping and testing out new recipes together can become a family event and a fun experience.
We hope you have a joyous Christmas season!