Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

You could say that I have struggled with enjoying Christmas as an adult. I have attempted to make it meaningful and have failed. I don't bother anymore. I find Christmas to be a scourge on the planet and boil on the face of humanity. I wish it would go away.

Since it is not going away, I have learned to deal with it. I am not an environmental scientist and don't have any secrets to how keep your Christmas environmentally sound. The only thing you can do to keep your Christmas green, is not celebrate it. But if you are, there are certainly ways to minimize your impact.

Getting a real tree that is grown locally is certainly better than having an artificial tree but the operative word here is locally. Getting a Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm (aka killing a tree for Jesus) is not as environmentally friendly as many people claim. Yes, they plant trees to grow and be cut down when it is six feet tall or so, this is good for the environment but not as good as planting the tree and letting it grow to maturity. Also, Christmas trees on farms not only don't grow to be large but they don't help to maintain a diverse ecosystems like those that grow in the wild. When birds nest in them, the nests are cleared away. Deer and other herbivores are kept away. When other types of plants sprout around them, they are pulled. This all contribute to these trees being more susceptible to disease and pest infestation which in turn, make the farmer more likely to use pesticides. Yes, these farms are a greener form of real-estate than a strip mall or a parking lot, but green? Not very. If you don't live near one of these farms and live in a big city, when you buy a real tree, you are not being green at all. If you think you are being green, you are kidding yourself. The amount of carbon that was burned to get the tree to the city makes the whole experience a wash. I realize not everyone can buy their tree from a neighbor like I do (not a farm but a guy with a few extra trees in his forested land). If you want to be green, you are better off getting an artificial tree, which is not green either, but it is reusable. You can keep it in a closet and take it out for the next 30 years. 

Unless your house is powered by wind, geo-thermal or solar, your lights on your tree are not green either. Non-electric ornaments are greener. If you have lights on your tree, you can often offset by turning off the lights in that room because the tree lights may give off enough light that you may not need the usual source. If you are one of those people who covers their house in lights and/or buys the huge idiotic plastic lawn ornaments, then you are obviously not green and you are probably not reading this blog posts because you clearly don't give a shit about the environment. 

Obviously, there are those that really do enjoy the Christmas season. You may know that the entire experience will never be green, but you feel that it is worth it considering the joy that you get out of it. Perhaps, but I would hope that you may find a way to offset this somehow with some other event during the year, like maybe planting a tree on Arbor Day ... buy locally, non-plastic and try not to travel just the sake of the holiday. 

Don't buy into the commercialism of it, obviously, but you should probably not buy into the religiousness of it either. If Jesus did exist, he was probably born in June. The December date was chosen by the Catholic church not so arbitrarily. They co-opted the date to coincide it with the winter solstice which was already being celebrated by the pagans. Then the capitalists stole it from the religious folks to sell plastic toys, greeting cards and adrenaline. The irony of this is that as a business model, Christmas is not good for the economy. Businesses lose a lot of money by hiring, training and laying off employees every year for the holiday rush. If the gift giving were staggered, like it is birthday gift shopping, they could maintain a steady employee base, who is well trained and compensated. If you want to help the economy, stop buying at Christmas and double your birthday present shopping. 

Overall, it would be it would be better for everyone if the pagans took the holiday back and made it their own again. It would green and quite a bit more sane. 


Olga said...

Well, Mark, I have heard a similar speech for the past twenty years. It is too bad you didn't get to meet Mike, You would be in agreement about this one.

Mark Peloquin said...

I got the impression from his funeral that I would have like him.