Going green for Christmas by Rosslyn Beeby

Thanks to Murray Scown for this fantastic article….

THIS Christmas, if every family reused just one metre of festive ribbon, the 60,800km of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. It’s a sobering statistic provided by Friends of the Earth in a campaign to take the trash out of Christmas. No figures are on hand for the amount of festive season waste generated in Australia, but reports show Britain piles up more than 3 million tonnes of waste each Christmas more than 160,000 tonnes of food waste, 80sqkm if wrapping paper, 6 million discarded Christmas trees and 4200 tonnes of aluminium foil.



Why bother installing an energy efficient lightbulb when a man in Lanarkshire boasts of attaching 1.2 million Christmas lights to his house?” asks The Guardian’s eco-columnist, George Monbiot in his new book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. While others are worrying about the contribution of their reasonably modest fossil-fuel burning habits to climate change, the man from Lanarkshire needs two industrial metres to measure the electricity he uses in festooning his house with winking lights.“One year his display melted the power cables supplying his village.


The name of the village which proves, I think, that there is a God is Coalburn,” writes Monbiot.



Christmas has become a time of recklessly high fossil fuel consumption, with any reminders of curbing greenhouse emissions briskly dismissed as smacking of the Scrooge spirit. At Christmas nobody wants to be reminded that climate change can somehow be connected to the amount of beer consumed at the office Christmas party. Or that plantation-grown Christmas trees contribute to land clearing and loss of wildlife habitat. Risk a comment and you’ll be compared to the Grinch, the Christmas-hating Dr Seuss character whose heart was “three sizes too small.”



But the Green Christmas movement is growing, and there’s a cool new Santa in town the Green Santa. Launched in Australia last month by the Gould League, the Green Santa wants to trim the trash and take the crass out of Christmas. “More than ever before the world is facing the environmental challenges of climate change and Santa Claus has decided to change his traditional costume from red to green to express his concern. “As part of the change Rudolph the red-nose reindeer now has a new name Gary the green-nose reindeer which will mean the famous Christmas carol will be re-written,” says a Gould League statement.



But Green Santa isn’t a new concept. It’s a global movement that started in Turkey in 1993, as an attempt to reclaim the reputation of St Nicholas, an archbishop born in the old Turkish city of Patara in the 4th century. He was originally depicted in a green cloak, and revered for his generosity toward the poor. Known as Noel Baba in Turkey, Pere Noel in France and Sinter Klaas in the Netherlands, the venerable saint received a modern make-over in a 1930s advertisement for Coca-Cola, with red suit, white whiskers and jingle-belled reindeer. In 1993, a Turkish mayor organised a global “Santa Claus Call For World Peace Activities”, changing the saint’s costume to green.



“Our children will ask, ‘Why did you change the colours of Santa Claus into green? We will tell them that one of the biggest, the most important, the most urgent problems of our world is the protection of wild life,” the mayor of Demre said, when announcing the new Santa movement. “We will draw the attention of children on the issue of protection of the environment through the green Santa Claus. We will use the colour green to create a magic effect. “It seems to be working, with more people wanting to cut consumption and reclaim the spiritual meaning of Christmas.


Here are 10 helpful hints that will bring a green glow to Christmas without any accusations of Grinch-like behaviour:

  1. Cut down your Christmas beer miles and drink a local brew. It takes fossil fuel to transport beer from around the globe or interstate. Smaller breweries will also have less greenhouse emissions so opt for a beer like Blue Tongue ( Hunter Valley) or Wollongong‘s Five Island. How painless is that resolution? Ditto for local wines.
  2. Give an e-gift that makes the world a better place for animals. The International Fund for Animal Welfare offers gift programs that will help save seals, care for Russia‘s orphaned bears and protect animals from poachers. Browse online and download a voucher that explains what’s being supported a $25 donation buys a health check for an orphaned bear cub or a pair of socks for a ranger on elephant patrol. www.ifaw.org
  3. Give the one you love a fly-proof loo. Care Australia offers plenty of eco-choices that will help the world’s poorer communities. Gifts range from $10 to provide a mosquito net, $20 for a water bucket and $48 to stop the spread of diseases with a fly-proof loo. If you really want to splurge, $342 will fund training of a nurse. www.careaustralia.org.au
  4. The Sydney suburb of Leichhardt has a tradition of neighbourhood Christmas nativities. That means less garish greenhouse lights, more creative effort and reduced contribution to global warming.
  5. Cut down on bags when shopping. Funny how plastic bag-fever can take hold during the festive season, with a new bag for each purchase.
  6. Give gifts that encourage people to use-less-stuff (the catchy title of a new anti-waste website). If you don’t know what they like, give them a voucher or cinema tickets.
  7. Buy a potted tree that can be reused or planted out in the garden after Christmas. A grevillea, banksia or bottlebrush won’t contribute to carbon emissions caused by landclearing and will provide food (when planted out) for native birds.
  8. Buy gifts from local craft stalls or farmers markets. You’re supporting local artists and farmers, rather than mass-produced merchandise made by offshore companies.
  9. Reduce wrapping by making it part of the present. Put gifts in a basket, terra cotta garden pot, or woven bag. Use ribbon to tie a bow on larger presents
  10. Buy Fairtrade coffee, tea and chocolates that support a fair price for farmers in developing countries.

Source: The Canberra Times


One response to “Going green for Christmas by Rosslyn Beeby

  1. i develop a lot of anger at people who do the xmas light thing. i really shouldn’t and it would be better if i did something productive, like drop a list of these xmas ideas in their mailboxes! and sign up sheets to green power.

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