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Christmas, what a waste!

Correction:  What a lot of waste (as well as carbon dioxide) is generated by the way we celebrate Christmas here in the United States. 

Think about it for a minute.  There is gift procurement, which entails either driving to a store or having items flown and/or ground shipped to your home.  There is wrapping, ribbons, and bows as well as packaging materials; all of which are usually discarded as soon as the gift is unwrapped.  There is the discarding of old items in favor of the new; many of which ended up in the landfill even if they are “generously” given to a thrift store.  And there is returning unwanted gifts to the store, either by driving there or by return air or ground shipping.  Adding to all this waste associated with gift-giving, there is huge uptick in air travel as people criss-cross the national and globe to be with friends and family.  And, finally, there is our beloved Christmas tree tradition in which millions of trees, those helpful carbon dioxide absorbers, are cut, decorate and then unceremoniously discarded on street to be ground up (more carbon dioxide) and composted.

It is often said that we in the developed world produces 50 or 60 percent of all the lifestyle emissions that are causing climate change and unfortunately how we celebrate Christmas is one of the major ways we produce those emissions. As Christians charged by God in Genesis with the stewardship of creation, we need not only to re-think what we do as individuals but we need to resolve to help our community and nation reduce Christmas waste in 2020.

Here’s some ideas to implement now to ensure that Christmas 2020 is more environmentally-conscious and climate-friendly:  1) consider buying a fake tree now while they are on sale, 2) buy local as you go throughout the year so your gifts won’t have to be shipped, 3) use re-usable wrapping such as gift bags, 4) plan a stay-cation every other year in order to reduce flight-related carbon emissions, 5) draw names for gift-giving rather than buy a gift for each person, and 6) drive less, heat less, bake less and whereever possible minimize your personal use of fossil fuels. 

And be public and open about your plans to reduce Christmas waste:  recent studies show that people who commit to these climate change practices and tell others are extremely influential.  For example, two-thirds of those who hear someone is giving up flying to an event for climate reasons are positively influenced to do like-wise, while less than 10 percent will say that this person’s decision has no effect on them at all.  So, be sure to share the good news that you plan to make Christmas 2020 less of a waste.

Christmas waste is a “more is better” tradition that was given to us by our families as well as the mainstream media which endlessly promotes Christmas as a shopping, giving, baking, traveling extravaganza.  For the sake of our planet and our children’s children, let’s celebrate the birth of Christ next year, knowing that right now, in our time, “less is best.”

—Pastor Pepper