It is easy to get caught in patterns of behaviour in general life, but especially around the holidays every family seems to have their own traditions that are often difficult to break free from. We are trying to reimagine the way we approach the holidays with a focus on reduced consumerism and increased giving in other ways. For example, the David Suzuki Foundation, as pictured above, is a charitable organization we believe in, so we took advantage of Giving Tuesday, a day where charitable donations to them are matched, doubling their impact. This year we didn’t tie it to being a gift to someone, we just knew we wanted to help out, but it led to conversations about how we plan to navigate the gift aspect of the holidays. This can be a very rewarding approach for both the gifter and the giftee because it shows that you support the giftee’s causes and perhaps allows for them to feel they’ve contributed more than their budget might otherwise allow. The food and travel aspects are something we are also mapping out, but until the holidays hit they are just conversations and plans, not something we can already post as having done/changed.
While we intend to reduce the amount of goods we purchase, we acknowledge that our kids might not be ready to forgo ‘stuff’ just yet. We are definitely cutting down though, and the idea of us driving all over to find things is at war with the idea that we can save our time, wear on vehicles, and of course gas, by ordering online and having things delivered. Obviously we are aware that this still involves vehicles on the road using fossil fuels, and there are issues around workplace environments and employee treatment at some of the most well-known online retailers, but overall we think the environmental footprint of having deliveries can be smaller than us driving excessively.
However, to truly make getting online deliveries the better environmental choice it requires a bit of planning. We always work to order as much as we know we want at the same time, not spread out over different orders/days. We then always choose the option to ship in as few packages / deliveries as possible, as opposed to just constantly opting for the speediest delivery window. This means that the carbon footprint of each item is lower than the ‘one-at-a-time’ approach.
While kids still both enjoy, and sometimes need, stuff, adults are usually less likely to truly need things. There are exceptions of course, so if your situation calls for giving gifts that the recipient truly needs then by all means make that happen. You can still do your best to be environmentally responsible as you go about enacting your decisions, but clearly a person in need wins out. This article is more about dealing with the clichéd “what do you get the person who has everything” situation. For Jen and I, and we know many others do this already also, the answer has become experiences. For our birthdays, and also for Christmas, we have been opting to have either special nights out or little getaways that add to our photo collection and memory banks without buying excessive ‘stuff’. We also choose destinations that are reachable in a reasonable amount of driving, as opposed to flying, and because we have a hybrid this feels like a reasonable use of fossil fuels. We’re definitely excited about mapping out journeys once we get a fully-electric vehicle too!
Pictured below are examples of some of our more recent getaways, including a trip to Ottawa, a cottage rental near Tobermory, and some amazing wall art we saw walking around the Hispanic area of Chicago.
Experiencing Life Together
Whether you celebrate Christmas, with the consumerism that has become ingrained in the holiday, or one of the many other holidays observed around this time of year by people from various cultures and religions around the world, having an eye on the climate as you make decisions is crucial. Each individual action and decision goes toward either worsening or mitigating climate change, and we hope you all choose wisely and work to lessen your impact.