Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Being Green—Without Stealing Christmas

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At Christmas--it's not easy being green.
Those who know me well know thisI hate throwing things away. Many times I've caught myself hovering an item over the trash. An item most wouldn't hesitate to call "garbage," but that I can't seem to let go. "Can it be reused? Recycled? Made into a hat?" (I'm convinced that all garbage can somehow be made into a hat.) I've been known to rant for tens of minutes about what is and isn't allowed in Stony Plain's blue bags. "What do you mean you can't recycle pickle jars? WhatI'm just supposed to throw them out?" I'm often tempted to save these jars and other "waste" for future craft projects and such, but the memory of an elderly gentleman a friend once told me about, who stored hundreds of empty dixie cups in his basement, has kind of stuck with me. No one wants to be the person found dead, buried beneath old newspapers, cat-eaten face and all.

So, we throw things out. For me, no time of the year is this more painful than at Christmas. The wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, the live Christmas trees, the tinsel, the plastic and cardboard packaging on gifts, the leftovers we meant to eat, but then we just couldn't stomach turkey for another day. (Okay, maybe I'm reaching here because, really, who throws out turkey?) Of course, these things come from a well-meaning placeand only grinches bemoan presents, decorations and feasts, right? Still, I can't help but cringe when I think about where all the excesses of our celebrating end up (i.e.: landfills, bodies of water, buried under the snow only to be unveiledlooking dirtier and mushierduring spring thaw). To those of us who make an effort to put the tissue paper in a blue bag instead of a garbage bag, or painstakingly pull tape off wrapping paper and fold it up for next year, I still have to play the stickler and saythere are three Rs and the first one isn't recycle or reuse, but reduce. Truthfully, do we really need all this stuff?

Umm, guys? I think we took a wrong turn somewhere...
Now, I'm not saying we should entirely stop buying gifts and stuffing them in dollar store gift bags that maybe, just maybe, have another good year in them. Gift giving is another one of those customs we can't seem to get away from. In fact, I'm going to be heading out tonight to partake in the timeless tradition of buying items for my loved ones that a) they could've pick out for themselves, or b) they wouldn't have pick out for themselves. Maybe I truly am a grinch. Maybe I'm even worse, because at least the grinch, after realizing Christmas doesn't come from a store, still merrily returns the paper ensconced gifts to all the little Whosnever once worrying if there's an eco centre in Whoville. Certainly, I'll happily participate in the exchange of gifts, but when it comes time to throwing things away this [and every] season, I'll be anything but merry.

This Christmas, let's do all the usuals. Give. Receive. Love. Eat until we're sick. But let's also do something else. Let's think about this beautiful planet we live on and give thanks for all its wonders by reusing, recycling and, most importantly, reducing. I'm sure your kid will love the Let's Rock Elmowhether it's wrapped in shiny new paper or stuffed in a Liquor Depot bag you salvaged from the trashjust the same.

Have any ideas about using the three Rs during the holiday season? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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