Have yourself a very merry green Christmas

Posted on: 10th December, 2019

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

This year has seemed to go so fast. I can’t believe we’re already at the end – until I look out the window after 4pm that is! Every day this week I’ve thought it was time to wind up the day, only to find that there are still two more hours left to the afternoon. 

It’s the time of year when blue skies and sunshine take a cheap package deal to somewhere else, and we are stuck living between twilight and darkness. It’s that time of year when the lights go on at breakfast, and may need to be on until next week, when a break in the clouds finally sheds some light on the landscape. Now is the dark time, when staying awake and warm, becomes a major goal. It would depress me except that I know that we only have one more month to go before the solstice and the gradual return of the light. Even if I give in to my hibernation desires, there are only a few weeks to go before the turn around, and the joys of Christmas and New Year celebrations to help us through the dreariness. After all, it could be worse! In Utgiakvik, Alaska, the sun set last week and will not rise again until 2020; after 66 ‘days’ of polar night.

In any case, I’m good this year. We took advantage of the Cork to Malta connection and chased the sunshine and blue skies on a package holiday of our own. It was lovely, sunny, and 20C! I am ready to face the dark days of December.

December brings all the trappings of the season: festive decorations, carols on a loop and those silly jumpers that light up. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but I’m going to try and resist the consumer cravings that Christmas inspires, and I would like to suggest that you might want to do the same. (After all I am feeling a little guilty about my air miles to Malta! Sorry Greta…)

Last month, around Halloween, I realised that for all my efforts to use refill shops, and not buy unnecessary stuff, I was very tempted to go out and buy a load of things that I didn’t need – just because it was Halloween! Though I am diligent in checking packaging on food, it was as if my environmental conscience went out the door if I saw a cute Halloween decoration – even if it was clearly made entirely of highly polluting petrochemicals, by child slave labour in an unregulated factory far, far away.

Similarly, though we have always been pretty proud of ourselves for avoiding the lure of plastic crap at Christmas, I was shocked to realise that I still automatically expect to buy such things as crackers, and extra tinsel without a thought for where, or how this stuff that I don’t need is made, nor what effect it has on the environment. Truly the need for change in the face of a looming global environmental catastrophe demands more thought than a reusable shopping bag. It also means having a different look at the holidays. Here is a handy list I’ve compiled to help me through this Christmas:

1. Shop local.

2. Think not only local shops, but also locally sourced.

3. Think before you buy. It may look cute, or funny, but will it end up in a landfill? 

4. Buy useful presents rather than more knickknacks, gee-gaws and assorted bits of plastic.  

5. Experiences rather than objects. Tickets to events. Memberships.

6. Food, drink, and other consumables like beauty products.

7. Don’t buy anything: Give someone you love something that you love. In other words, pass on objects, paintings, jewellery, photographs that are meaningful.

8. Crafty Christmas: make presents, and decorations. 

9. Give your time and love.

Wishing you and yours a very merry, greener, Christmas!

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