In the holiday shopping hierarchy, Black Friday comes first (although this year it was preceded by Gray Thursday on Thanksgiving).
After that comes Cyber Monday. Both of those days encourage consumption and consumerism.
I’ve decided to wage my own mini-campaign to designate the winter solstice (Dec. 21) as “Green Day”
To refresh your brain, equinoxes and solstices are astronomical events that each come twice a year. Equinoxes occur during the autumn and spring; solstices during the summer and winter.
A solstice happens when the Sun stops before reversing its direction.
I love the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year, light-wise), because psychologically I know that for the next 180+ days, the length of daylight will increase.
Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talking about.
There is a nice “symmetry” to balancing holiday consumerism with a day devoted to the environment. By its very nature, holiday spending is inherently bad for the environment. Consumerism pushes people to desire things more and more.
Essentially, it is the reason you have more things than you need. And when you dispose of those products and/ or their packaging, you produce waste, which poses a threat to our water sources, air, plants, and animals.
How can you “go green” on the winter solstice (which this year will probably be more white than green)?
First, make a commitment to not spend any money that day. Save your financial “green” I recognize that it is the final weekend before Christmas, and for many people that means getting caught up with last minute gift buying. However, instead of rushing around shopping, stay home. Spend the day enjoying your family and home. Or, spend time out-of-doors appreciating the beauty of a fresh winter day.
Second, ponder on some ways you can individually do something to protect the environment. Maybe you will plant a tree this spring. Trees clean the air and provide oxygen, shade, and food. Ornamental trees are beautiful in the landscape, but why not plant one that can do double duty? In the old days, most families had some kind of fruit tree in their yard. If you have room, plant an apple tree (or plum, peach, or cherry). It will provide food for you that nourishes your body as well as the environment.
Third, identify one way that your spending choices impact the environment. What percent of your purchases are renewable? Nonrenewable? How much trash are you going to generate on Christmas Day? How can you reduce future waste through reuse and/or recycling? I made cloth bags of various sizes out of Christmas fabric a few years ago and they get reused every year. It is so much easier to slide a gift into a bag and pull the drawstring; it sure beats measuring, cutting, wrapping, taping, and tying bows. And there is no wrapping paper waste afterwards.
I’ll wind up by asking, if you have children, to encourage them to be part of the solution as well.
Read with them The Lorax, by Dr. Suess. It is a children’s book that chronicles the plight of the environment. In it, the Lorax speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. I love the symbolism of the thneed factory (no, that isn’t a misspelling). A thneed is defined as a thing that everyone thinks they need. It is a meaningful way to start a discussion with family members on the difference between needs and wants.
Solstice means ‘sun stands still’ Inherent in that definition is the re-birth of the sun – for both the universe and you personally. The end of the year is a time of rest and reflection; winter gives nature time to rest and recharge before spring. It also gives us an opportunity for our spirit to be reborn and transformed from inner darkness into light.
May your 2014 be a year of growth; both personally and environmentally.