#3 Give Back More.
So for we have discussed the first two principles of celebrating a Christmas which blesses both people and planet. Cutting the waste and taking less of everything are a good start but since the things we do in life should have purpose and reason to them, we now come to the third principle; the reason to reduce waste and take less is so that we can Give Back More! Give back more to both people and planet. Since giving is at the very heart of Christmas and giving makes us all feel a little happier let us look at some ways we can give back. When we give back to the planet we also give back to people; so some A-Z ideas about how to give back. This Christmas, let’s try to give back a little more than we take.
A = Act Local There is a saying, Think Global but Act Local. Now is the time to support local business, to buy local produce and to build local community. There is no need to turn your life upside down, there is no need to make a lot of noise, protest or break the law but to ACT is required and it is required now! Implement intentional, sustainable, considered and consistent changes in the way you approach your lifestyle and spending habits which support local people and business rather than faceless, multi national companies.
B= Bees The Planet needs bees; without them we will starve and bees are under significant threat. Be a friend to bees by planting some flowers; they love purple/ blue and bright yellow/orange colours. So think lavender, statice and nasturtiums. Provide shallow bowls of water with large smooth pebbles in the bottom so bees can get a drink on hot days, put a bee hive in the back yard; native bees are stingless, or build a bee house. And make some beeswax wraps to replace single use plastics. Saving the Planet one beeswax wrap at a time!
C= Compost The earth needs back the nutrients from the organic matter it has produced; to throw compost suitable matter in the garbage is poor stewardship. Compost bins, worm farms, bokashi buckets; there are a number of alternatives for composting. Choose one that suits your lifestyle and get composting.
D= Deforestation The planet is losing forests at an alarming rate; the destruction of forest areas affects wildlife, ecosystems, weather patterns, and even the climate. Forests store carbon, they have a cooling effect and are a very necessary part of the ecosystem. Be mindful of how many trees have lost their life for you to have your lifestyle. Be a tree planter.
E = Energy Reduce the demand where ever possible. Use sun and wind power to dry washing, turn off lights, invest in solar panels, walk or cycle, take public transport; there are lots of ways to reduce your demand on energy.
F = Fast Fashion Fast fashion; reject it. Fast fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world, second only to oil. It uses huge amounts of water in production, it exploits workers in poorer countries and in Australia, we send 85% of the textiles we buy to land fill every year. The link to the article says it better than I could but all I know is it is time to step off the fast fashion tread mill. That $5 Tshirt is costing the planet far more than you or I can afford. Fast fashion quick to cause environmental havoc – Sustainability – University of Queensland (uq.edu.au)
G= Give, Give, Give It is the season for giving. Do it liberally and with intent. Do it widely but cost effectively. Simply sharing with others is a gift. Do not stop at giving to only those you know or those who really don’t need anything. Give to the poor and needy, the sick and lonely, the frazzled and frustrated, the down and out. More about this under S
H= Homemade Love is in the hands! Home made means made with love. Do not underestimate the value of a homemade gift both to the giver and the receiver.
I = Initiative and Intuition We all have some and it can be used to support both people and the planet. Spend some time in quiet contemplation and listen for the creative ideas which will arrive and guide you into how you can make your difference.
J= Join Join the growing throng of people who are finding new ways or returning to old ways which support sustainability.
K = Knowledge Increase knowledge; do some reading or watch programs like Gardening Australia. Be aware of how much your lifestyle is costing the planet. Find like minded people and support each other to create a more sustainable future.
L = Landfill Reducing landfill is Love, pure and simple! How much you throw away starts with how much you buy. Adopt the habit of being a selective buyer; buy what is needed and use it, if possible then find a way to recycle or repurpose/ reuse. Send as little as possible to land fill.
M= Meat Eat less. Meat is wonderful but the production of meat, especially beef, has quite a heavy environmental footprint. I am not vegetarian nor vegan but I believe in regular vegetarian meals. Meat free Mondays?
N= Neighbours Do you know yours? Now is the time to embrace them and develop a bit of neighbourhood spirit. Good neighbours are worth their weight in gold. Be sure to be one.
O=Organic Support nature and the natural; avoid chemicals, choose natural fibers, opt for as little man made interference in your lifestyle as practical.
P = Purchase Power The world turns on supply and demand so if you want to change the world, change how you spend your money; if we reduce the demand on some things, of necessity the supply chain will have to adapt. Think no more plastic, no more cheap fashion, no more imported food when our own farmers can supply us … and the list goes on. With every $ we spend we vote for the type of world we want to live in. It really is powerful and it is power we hold.
Q= Quirky It’s OK to be a little bit quirky. The world needs people who think a little differently.
R = Reduce, Recycle, Reuse Buy good quality second hand items. Not only will your bank balance be thankful but so will the planet. When you buy second hand the energy to produce that item has already been released and you are not contributing to current pollution.
S= Strangers In this giving season it is easy to give to the people we know; the people who already have enough and the people we feel pretty confident will give us something back. But real giving is to give to those we don’t know and to those who have no way of giving anything back. This is the real blessing of giving and there are so many people and places to whom we can give. Just find one and GIVE.
T= Trees Nothing says Christmas like the beautifully decorated Christmas Tree; they come in all shapes and sizes; do a quick Google search to read about the symbolism of the Christmas Tree. Now real trees, the ones that grow in the ground, are the lungs of the planet; they store carbon dioxide which helps to clean the air; plant one or more. I am pretty sure the planet cannot be over treed.
U =Urban Gardening I love the idea of urban gardening, particularly group urban gardening. Rooftop, container, vertical, balcony, community. There is an option for anyone. Enjoy!
V= Vegetables on the Verge If you have a wide footpath / verge put it to good use. Lots of terrific ideas on Google. Grow some herbs and veges. Share with the neighbours.
W= Waste not; Want not. This old saying is as true today as ever. Here’s another one; Wilful Waste makes Woeful Want. I have lived by these mantras for decades. I have been ridiculed for this stance; particularly by folks who are addicted to consumerism and are highly wasteful. But I can tell you something; being wasteful is not intelligent, it is not character building and from what I can see, does not make anyone any happier. I will get down from my soap box!
X = Xmas The X stands in for Christ for whom this season is named and the mass is simply a celebration of the Christ. Religious and historical accounts support that Christ was really born, however, it is highly unlikely that it was in December or on the 25th of that month. You can do lots of reading around that if interested. The Christ, indeed, is worthy of our honour and our celebration of the Joy and Hope He brought to the World which we express through our gift giving.
Y = You You actually have more power to change the world than you think. Folks sit around and wring their hands, they talk gloom and doom, they rob young people of their hope in a future, they demand governments make changes to placate their fears; but actually you have the power to reduce waste, you have the power to take less, you have the power to step off the merry go round of consumerism, you have the power to spend your $s in ways which support ethics, environment and sustainable enterprise.
Z= Zero Waste It’s a lofty ideal! But if it is an ideal we hold in our hearts and minds it is an ideal we will move closer towards. Yesterday our old neighbours came to visit us and we shared lunch. It was a delight to see them. D brought a gift of cookies, they were simply boxed and unwrapped because she had read my post about reducing waste at Christmas. And people, that’s what we all need to do; reduce the waste, take less of everything and give back more.
How is this for a Christmas Tree?
Wishing you a Merry Christmas which blesses both People and Planet.