Have you purchased a plastic shower curtain liner that smelled really bad? Most are made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which off-gasses VOCs (volatile organic compounds). A better option is a fabric shower curtain liner. They look great, work beautifully, have metal grommets that don’t tear off the hooks, and they don’t smell! They don’t contain those VOCs that can be irritating in so many ways. And for the holiday gift giving, you can help others by purchasing gifts at SERRV International (https://www.serrv.org/) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s store (http://www.thegoodbuy.com/).
Some folks attended a workshop which dealt with issues of denial, despair and grief as we face difficult situations, including climate change. The Joanna Macy website offers some insight into these issues. You may find it helpful: http://www.joannamacy.net/.
It is that time of year when we buy lots of things and travel—both of which produce carbon dioxide and add to the climate change problem. With some careful planning we can at least minimize our impact on Mother Earth. Here are some ideas that might help.
- Consider gifts that are experiences rather than things, e.g., a massage, a movie pass, a dinner together, music lessons, a gym pass, or an event at the UU Rowe Center (http://rowecenter.org). Lots of studies show that experiences produce more long term satisfaction than owning one more thing.
- New is nice, but second-hand or consignment items are better for the Earth and your pocketbook! To find some stores, just enter “consignment shops in CT” in a Google search. There are lots of “thrift” stores, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, as well as those related to specific churches or other institutions. Many of them actually carry new items with the price tags still on them. You can search for local stores at http://www.thriftstorelistings.com/.
- Even if you really want to get something new, you can find “greener” variations of many products. One way is to shop at “green gifts” websites, which can be found by using those words in a Google search. If you have a specific item in mind, try using “sustainable” or “green” in front of the item name in a Google search.
- Generally, buying locally produced items has a lower carbon footprint. For example, visit a local pottery studio, the crafts booths at a farmers’ market, or even better make your own gift. The Internet has lots of DIY (do it yourself) instructions; just enter “DIY item” in Google.
- Some of us will be “shopping till we drop,” but if you can stand it, think through your shopping plans so that you make a longer excursion rather than many shorter trips from home. Make it more fun by going shopping with a friend.
- Vacation travel is essential to spending time with loved ones during the holiday season, but traveling probably produces more carbon dioxide than our gifts. If flying or driving are equal options for you, then use the following site to see which method has lower carbon dioxide production: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx . You can make your trip “carbon-neutral” by purchasing carbon credits equal to those added by your trip—use the “offset” link when given the carbon cost of your trip at the above site. For example, you can neutralize a round-trip flight to Oregon by purchasing carbon credits from different projects at a cost between $10-20. This site was found by using the climate pages of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office: http://www.uua.org/environment/climate/index.shtml.
- Don’t forget to recycle as much as you can of all the packaging that comes with holiday gifts. What you don’t recycle will be burned in incinerators and will produce both carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.
- If you got a new technology item, be sure to dispose of the old one properly, e.g., you can take it to a Staples store and they will recycle it free and, if it is still in working order, might even buy it from you. Be sure to check what items they will recycle by searching “recycling” at: http://www.staples.com.
- ? Make a gift to Mother Earth by pledging to reduce your current carbon footprint. Add your pledge to the carbon “footprints” on the wall in the Program Room or in the basement hallway at UUS:E. Possible pledge ideas are listed there. Find similar suggestions at http://www.carbonfootprint.com/minimisecfp.html.
*CAT stands for Climate Action Team, which is a subcommittee of the Sustainable Living Committee.
The Sustainable Living Committee meets at UUS:E on the second Tuesdays of each month, Please join us at 7:00 pm. For more information about the Sustainable Living Committee, Green Sanctuary, or anything in this article, contact the office at 860-646-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.