Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Green Christmas

It's that time of year again. Time to make the list, check it twice, and sort out presents for the naughty and nice.

This year I don't feel the Christmas spirit yet, although considering Halloween is still one week away, it may be too early to say. The swelteringly summery weather may have something to do with it as well.

Summer was short this year, and not as hot as it usually is. But then, maybe I spoke too soon because the so-called cool months have not yet come upon us. The days are back to sultry and warm, and evenings are no better unless it rains. Thankfully we live right next to a golf course, so any breeze on the air blows our way.

Could this be due to global warming, or is it just regular tropical weather? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure, this year's holidays looks like they will be very green - environmentally green, that is. The situation with the world's economies and rising living costs mean that most of us will be thinking carefully about our Christmas spending in the days to come. I know I will be.

The Colour of Money
About 2 decades ago, when I was first at school in England, I discovered a wonderful shop that sold bath and body products made with very few chemicals and using ingredients that helped foster community trade with poorer countries. Anita Roddick's The Body Shop first opened in Brighton the year I was born. Today, it has branches all over the world. Some of the items it stocks have long been on my list of favourite things, though sadly, others have been discontinued (more on that later.)

Back in the 1980s, there was only Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund that actively campaigned to save our planet. I eagerly supported their causes, wanting my future children to have fresh air to breathe and trees to climb.

Today everyone in the world must be environmentally aware, and this is a good thing. A group of friends recently started a livelihood project that provides jobs to disadvantaged women while fighting the plastic bag war. Their products are wonderful, and are on my present list already. Another friend from college never gives presents at Christmas time, preferring to donate the money instead to a worthy cause.

While my family is very much into gift-giving, I've experimented with other ways of being kind to the planet while doing so. One year I wrapped all my presents in newspaper and magazine pages. Another year I used recycled paper, and yet another year or so only paper that biodegrades easily. And then there is the matter of the presents themselves. Handmade organic soaps and candles, food, things that I hope will be cherished rather than simply used and eventually thrown away. Many gifts are put aside for my daily girl's family, as well as those of other household help. I hate waste.

This year will be more of the same. No doubt Little A will get more toys than he needs, so those will find good homes. Food presents will be eaten, and where possible, the presents we give won't be wrapped at all. Every little bit counts, after all. So hopefully this will be a very green Christmas, weather-wise, environment-wise and budget-wise. Ho ho ho.

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