Doing holidays the HRA-AI way! Tips for an earth- and human rights-friendly holiday season
Did you know… …that many mainstream chocolate companies source their cocoa from suppliers that use child labor, forced labor, and unhealthy working conditions? By buying from companies such as Hershey’s you are supporting this trend. …that Americans generate an extra 5 million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, much of it consisting of plastic packaging and foil?
So how do I avoid harming the earth and my fellow humans over the holidays? • Decorations • Food • Gifts
“Green” Decorations • If you are getting a Christmas tree, keep in mind that these trees are usually grown using immense levels of chemicals to speed growth and achieve the bright green color, and these chemicals contaminate surrounding waterways. But on the other hand, many artificial trees are made from PVC or polyethylene. PVC is a plastic made from crude oil, a non-renewable resource. If you do decide to purchase a cut tree, try to find a local tree farm to reduce the greenhouse gases associated with your Christmas tree purchase. • Go green – literally! Instead of buying tinsel or other cheap decorations that will just go in the garbage after the holidays, use the beautiful decorations that nature gives us! • Fall: Squashes, gourds, and fall leaves are great fall décor • Winter: buy boughs of Christmas tree branches for cheap at a Christmas tree stand to make wreaths or garlands. And they smell great! • Use LED holiday lights
Food • Donate your excess canned/nonperishable goods to Thanksgiving food drives! • Meat: go meatless! Or minimize your meat and buy organic and/or free range turkeys • Buy local: go to Eastern Market, and the DuPont farmer’s market for your veggies, dairy and meat, and to local bakeries for your bread! • Or get a CSA, find a farm and sign up here: http://www.localharvest.org/organic-farms/ • Buy in-season food (it doesn’t require air-conditioned storage, planes or big rigs burning fumes to bring us strawberries in November or pumpkins in July): sweet potatoes, winter squashes, pumpkins, broccoli, and cranberries • Waste not, want not: don’t make so much food that it will go to waste • Compost your veggie and non-dairy scraps – it’s actually really easy, and you can have it collected weekly! http://compostcab.com/
Gifts: be a conscientious consumer • Fair Trade Gifts: buy goods that support • Ten Thousand Villages • Global Exchange • Local fair trade stores • Give gifts to those in need: • Heifer International • Kiva loans • Give gifts to support human rights: Amnesty International Store online • Get crafty! Make a gift by reusing materials. For example, paint a cool wine bottle to make a vase, melt crayons in an old mug to make a candle, or make coasters out of old wine corks, or paint an eggshell or small object to make an ornament!
Research the companies, goods and industries that you are supporting with your consumer vote. Make sure you’re not supporting harm to humans or the environment: • Search by industry or company name at http://www.responsibleconsumer.net/ or http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/index.cfm • Wrap gifts using old newspapers, bags from stores, cloth bags, old shoe and shipping boxes. You can spruce them up with paint, colored pencils, drawings, stickers, or bows made from bunched fabric. And make sure to save those gift bags and bows for next year!