Here is a post by a guest blogger: my sister, Emily Horton. She recently took a course called “Master Recycler Program” from a local agency aiming to maximize sustainability in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon. After having taken the course, she tells me that she feels her life has new direction and purpose as she seeks to implement some of the ideas and strategies she has learned.
As “pay back” for the class, students are required to fulfill a certain amount of volunteer work. She wants to develop presentations to give in local classrooms and also to publish some of her ideas and experiences.
She welcomes any comments and feedback you have on her article!
“I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas”
With Christmas looming right around the corner and three young children to consider, I am beginning to brainstorm my holiday plan. When I think back to Christmases past, I see visions of trashbags full of plastic packaging dancing in my head. In the Lane County Waste Management Master Recycler Program, I learned it’s okay that I can’t afford all the gizmos and hoopla our consumer-based culture has come to expect from the holidays: Mother Earth can’t afford it either. And so I sit in the November rain, pondering how to make this season go easy on the Earth and my pocketbook, but heavy on the festivities.
Such an outcome is possible if we use the Green Triangle. Ernest Callenbach developed the Green Triangle as a way to visualize the connection between our personal well-being, the health of our planet and our economy. Picture a triangle with each point representing one of the aforementioned factors. Every decision we make, everything we buy affects all three points in a similar way.
So when we choose to clean our yard with a rake instead of a leafblower, we positively affect our personal health with exercise, our earth’s health with a zero-emissions human-powered tool, and our financial health with a one-time, low-cost investment and no additional fuel or tune-ups required. When we make a decision that is responsible and positive for the earth, we positively affect our health, and definitely save money.
Now to take the Green Triangle theory and apply it to my holiday dilemma. Our family’s main holiday priority is making happy memories for the kids and infusing the season with meaning. In addition to the Eugene Register-Guard, I check the Eugene Weekly and Oregon Family Newsletter for free or low-cost family events in the area. Our favorites become annual traditions, like the free live nativity at Herrick’s Farm and the open house at Heceta Head Lighthouse.
While we try not to focus on gifts, we do like to spoil the kids a little at Christmas. In years past we spent $200 or more at major corporate retailers and really didn’t have much to show for it, and nothing cherished or special. But last year we bought a few beautiful toys and puzzles from a local family-owned toy & hobby shop and then spent the rest of our budget at non-profit second-hand stores like Teen Challenge and St. Vincent de Paul’s. It feels good to support local businesses (it’s great for the economy, too!), it’s good for the planet to buy non-plastic, minimally-packaged gifts (especially second-hand) and we spend less money while giving better gifts.
Why stress and work overtime to fund your Christmas this year? I see everyone’s lives improving dramatically as we use the Green Triangle to guide our daily decisions and purchases. There’s no better time than now to start, so go ahead, give it a try!
For more information on the Green Triangle, visit
http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC26/Callnbch.htm and read his original article.