Be Like Florida, Green for the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us and now officially in December, we are certainly in the thick of the holiday season. My family always makes fun of me for being a scrooge as I loudly and repeatedly state throughout December, “I hate Christmas!” My statement is especially cantankerous when I overhear Christmas music in public places in November. Don’t get me wrong, I love the family time, delicious food, happy moods, and the other altruistic parts of the season. It’s the consumerism that ruins it for me. I love giving; I don’t love feeling obligated to purchase something for everyone I know, hearing on NPR what the retail market feels the buying power of “consumers” will be this season, and other crazy-talk such as people getting mowed over to get into certain enormous multinational corporations.

However, I’m beginning to try to embrace the season again with a new frame of mind. Instead of being ill-tempered throughout the last month of the year, I want to enjoy the cool weather and change in seasons; utilize the additional time spent inside by reading, craft-making, knitting, kitty cuddling and learning new skills; enjoy making useful gifts for my loved ones; and maybe even listen to one of the only Christmas songs I like: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. (I’m always the gray cloud.)

Wednesday and Arthur love cuddling when it’s cold out.

Luckily, I feel that I have lots of support in this relearning process. I’ve come across so many folks that feel the same way I do: Consumption has gotten way out of hand, and it’s time to take a step back. The Internet is littered with inspirational ways to have a handmade, waste-free holiday! I loved this article from Apartment Therapy about keeping it green during the holidays. Also, check out Adbusters’ Buy Nothing Christmas, which encourages celebrating non-material joy, inner peace, avoiding stress and saving money during the holiday season. A simple google search will yield hundreds of ideas for a green holiday season!

Green Resolutions

This year, I began thinking about New Year’s resolutions early. The idea popped into my head about a month ago — green resolutions. I excitedly began thinking of all the really challenging things I feel I should do as someone who cares about the environment, but that either require planning, dedication, staunch routine-altering, learning new skills, or some impetus to get me started. The New Year seemed like the perfect such impetus. Although, the “learning new skills” point I’ve been getting an early start on so I’ll be ready on January first.

Last year, well, last February, I declared 2012 the year of “Getting My Hands Dirty.” Through quitting my office job and wwoofing, starting a fall garden and beginning the process of self-employment (more to come on that front), I consider the venture a success. While I want to continue my process of “getting dirty,” I also want to stretch to new goals for growth. I don’t yet know what my theme for this year will be, but I have a couple ideas: “Make Art Everyday” or “Passion Comes First.” I’ve really enjoyed having the time this year to get back in touch with my creative side. Making things and creating gives me such inner pleasure and completely busts stress; it “gets me out of my head,” if you will. As the end of the year approaches, I’ll continue brainstorming my new theme for next year.

As for green resolutions, the first one I thought up became a topic of debate in my house:  1. Buy less (no?) plastic. I kept eagerly mentioning it to my boyfriend, Tim, priding myself on what a great resolution I’d thought up. Then one evening, he said to me plainly that he didn’t want to inconvenience himself with avoiding plastic and that there were bigger fish to fry. I immediately became very defensive. How could he say buying plastic didn’t matter?! It’s filling our oceans, it’s causing endocrine disruption and cancer in our bodies, it kills tons of animals who mistakenly swallow or get caught in it, it’s not really recyclable beyond a time or two… my mind whirled. As we spoke back and forth a few quick times, trying to bring our points home, we realized finally that we weren’t really in disagreement. In my jump to the defensive, I had missed the point of his comment: That while it’s imperative to reduce our impact in our personal lives, we shouldn’t get caught up in the minutiae of reduction and forget about the actions that make a bigger difference, a distraction I commonly find myself wrapped up in. I can see why this occurs: We have control over our personal lives, purchases, ways of disposal and allocation of time. Our own practices are the most obvious place to begin. The idea that it isn’t enough is unsettling.

Tim’s wake up call reminded me of a book I read over the summer, which affected me deeply: What We Leave Behind by Derrick Jensen and Arik McBay. (There is a book review in the works!) The authors drive home the point that we need to conduct actions which make a bigger impact (or, more accurately, reduce civilization’s destruction of the planet to a greater degree) than the tiny practices our personal lives. According to the book, municipal waste accounts for only three percent of humans’ trash; the other ninety-seven percent can be attributed to industry. To my great frustration, the authors never really give a neat and tidy list of what measures we, mere civilians, can take.  They mention direct action and using one’s talents to reach others, and other similarly ethereal ideas. I surmised that the answer I sought wasn’t that simple; I would have to think and research and brainstorm about it. I asked Tim what kinds of things he thought were worthy of our dedication, things that counted as “big.” He mentioned our garden, but beyond that we were sort of stumped. I continue to ponder this quandary daily as I consider my direction in life and my green resolutions… What else can I do that matters more? Do you have any ideas or suggestions for green resolutions? Here is my tentative list, which admittedly is mostly personal reduction and self-reliance-type things. I hope by the official New Year to have at least a few “big” items:

1. Buy less (no?) plastic.

2. Become involved in Citizens Climate Lobby. (I think I consider this a “big” thing.)

3. Learn to make soap “the hard way.”

4. Self-employment.

Thanks for any suggestions you volunteer, and I’d love to hear about green resolutions of your own!

Holiday Worries

Things are getting better and better. Except, I think I am going to go broke if I keep going to Native Sun, the health food store, twice a week. I need to go to the flea market on the weekends (even if it’s not organic, at least it is semi-local) then supplement that produce with Native Sun stuff. But as far as my cravings, much better. I don’t get as hungry at night and if I do, I can usually eat a small piece of raw fruit pie and then go to bed. I figured out why I have been tired during this time for two reasons: 1) it was the week before my period, so of course I was going to be tired and 2) I read the section of 12 Steps to Raw Foods about detox and have many of the symptoms Victoria Boutenko describes (mouth sores, fever, weakness). I am now glad that I experienced these symptoms because she writes that if one does not, then it means their body is too weak to try to heal itself and get all of the toxins out. So, although I was feeling bad I am glad I stayed on raw foods because now I know it was just part of detox.

I am glad I read the part about living harmoniously with cooked food eaters. Thanksgiving is coming up and I am apprehensive not about being tempted to eat cooked food, but about talking about eating raw foods to my family or explaining about it. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to go about explaining raw foods in a simple, quick no-argument way? I don’t want to ruin Thanksgiving. Victoria’s suggestion is to say, “I am glad you are concerned about me, but I feel fine and you can eat what’s on your plate and I’ll have mine.” I think that is good. She also says not to pressure anyone in your family to go raw. Actually, she says to just put that out there up front. When you tell them you’re raw go ahead and say that you don’t expect anything but support from them and that they can continue to enjoy their turkey and stuffing. I need to do some patching. I told my dad I thought he might like to read Green for Life. I don’t want him to take my suggestion as pressure for him to go raw though. I guess I’ll bring it and let him look at it, but if he doesn’t seem interested, I’ll just let it go. I need to remember not to even ask them to try my food. But let them ask to try my food if they wish to.

So here’s what it looks like is on the menu for my Thanksgiving: I think it’s going to be carrot pecan sunburger with candied yams and some kind of fruit pate. And of course salad, veggies, etc. I am just going to try to keep the peace with my family if they give me a hard time for eating raw foods.