One of the most challenging changes we can make is to simplify our life. To resist the seductive trappings of materialism is not easy. Yet, one has only to begin – even if it means taking one small step at a time.
When you live simply, you get used to coming up with ideas like baking your own cookies and packaging them in elegant glass jars with a bright ribbon to present as gifts, or stringing together pretty shell necklaces for your young nieces. You swallow your pride and give more of yourself than your things.
However, we also know that if you live in Singapore and are earning a decent income, the impulse to spend at this time of the year is strong.
So spare a thought for Mother Earth when you go on that shopping spree. Ask yourself: Do I need all this extra packaging? And do make it a habit to take a couple of reusable bags (pop them in your car or handbag) before rushing out to spend your money.
SOME GREEN TIPS FOR CHRISTMAS
Re-think your gifting practices. Give an experience that is uplifting to the spirit such as tickets to a concert or an arts event, membership to museums or sponsorship for a Bible study course.
Or give to a charity on behalf of the recipient (write on a card that a donation has been made in their name).
Spend time with the elderly folks, whether at home or in homes.
Refuse and Reduce. Go easy on the bright lights and glittery decorations. If you must have a Christmas tree, think natural and forget about using cotton wool to evoke a “white Christmas”. Even a small branch decorated with origami stars, old Christmas cards laid on a batik piece of cloth, or a simple manger tableau, with the glow of a small lighted candle, can create a beautiful effect.
Reduce the amount of waste generated during parties. That includes wasted food.
Refuse to use plastics and styrofoam; use banana leaves to line paper or real plates for greasy or curry food. Use paper plates and cups or biodegradable “cornware” if you really have to.
Re-use. It is perfectly okay to re-use giftwrap paper. (Teach your children to save the wrappings and explain it helps to save the trees.)
To make it easier for everyone, don’t write anything on the giftwrap paper (make little tag cards from old Christmas cards), use sticky tape sparingly or not at all (tie with a ribbon), avoid gift wrapping that advertises the name of the store, and avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper as these are difficult to recycle.
If your child likes to scribble, give her some colourful wax crayons and sheets of plain paper (better still, use the other side of your used paper) and save them as gift wrap!
Recycle. When springcleaning, send your unwanted things for re-cycling, or to the thrift shops.
Parish Possibilities. At parish celebrations, ask your caterers for biodegradable cutlery. If they refuse, buy or provide your own.
Make the Monday after Christmas a meatless Monday (then keep it up for each week if you can). Research has shown that animal agriculure accounts for 51 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Have a Blessed Green Christmas!
By Anne Lim
The writer is a parishioner of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a special interest in spiritual ecology