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FEATURE - December 2019
5 Essentials for a Conscious Holiday Season
by Sami Aaron
Conscious holiday celebrations and environmental action—how are they connected?
In 2019, millions of people realized the impact that global warming and the resulting climate crisis will have on the health of our planet and the quality of our lives. Many people are fearful, anxious, and overwhelmed by the news reports and images of uncontrolled wildfires, severe flooding, and beloved animals on the brink of extinction.
The big question is: What can just one person do that will make any difference?
The answer: In every season, including the holiday season, we can intentionally make choices that benefit this glorious earth and all its inhabitants. This year, make a pledge to speak your heart to your family, friends, and coworkers to let them know that you care deeply about your holiday impact on the planet. Ask for their help to make this year one that is environmentally uplifting.
Where Do You Start?
At The Resilient Activist , we focus on Five Essentials for a Resilient World. These concepts address our individual behaviors from a well-rounded, holistic approach. They can be interpreted externally, as culture shifts in everyday living, as well as internally for personal emotional and physical well-being.
This month’s Evolving Magazine is about conscious holidays, and building our relationship to a healthy, resilient planet is one more aspect of a conscious way of living. The suggestions listed here are to inspire your heart and mind to embody the joy of the season from a sense of a deep connection to Earth and all the living, breathing, nurturing, and supportive aspects that it provides for our lives.
Every holistic choice we make will take us one step closer to a fully sustainable future.
So settle into a thoughtful mood, take a few deep breaths, and as you envision your upcoming holiday celebrations, see what manifests in your imagination through these Five Essentials for a Resilient World.
Step 1: Reconnect to Nature
Important things happen when you step outside and give the natural world your attention. You feel refreshed from inhaling the air and connecting with wildlife, trees, plants, and water.
∗ Decorate your home inside and out with natural objects or images from nature.
∗ On Black Friday, instead of shopping, team up with REI’s #OptOutside for a day of volunteerism in nature.
∗ Give gifts for visits to parks and other natural places.
∗ Spend time in nature to alleviate stress caused by over-planning and over-spending on the holidays.
∗ Allow your mental and physical health to reap the great benefits of fresh air and nature scenes.
Step 2: Respect all Life
The choices you make as you go through your everyday life can have a valuable impact on others—people, pets, and wildlife, as well as our forests and prairies. You’ll notice an uplift in your mood when you set an intention to act with compassion for all living beings.
∗ Donate money or volunteer time and talent for underserved populations, human and non-human alike.
∗ Purchase compassionately-raised food, such as locally grown turkey or ham from a small farmer.
∗ Respect your own life as you evaluate what your heart and mind truly want for the holiday season.
∗ Schedule time to share old family stories and encourage each person to bring their favorite.
∗ Make memories﹘crafts, photographs, or plan shared time with those you love.
Step 3: Re-Green the Planet
Notice the amount of cement, rooftop, and mowed lawn around your house and reflect on what wildlife habitat was there before. When you replenish natural, native outdoor spaces, you provide an environment that produces clear water and breathable air.
∗ Give gifts of plants, trees, or gift certificates to native plant nurseries.
∗ Cut down your holiday tree at a local prairie restoration site—check with your local parks department.
∗ Purchase a real tree, root ball and all, then plant it as part of the holiday celebration.
∗ Switch your internet browser to Ecosia.org, and plant trees while you surf.
∗ Visualize next year’s pollinator garden and start to gather native plant lists and design ideas. Ask for gifts to help bring this garden to fruition.
Step 4: Revamp our Spending
How do you spend your money, time, energy, and effort? Set an intention to consider the impact on healthy ecosystems and compassion for others. Look for fair trade, sustainably sourced, and cruelty-free products.
∗ Refuse, reduce, reuse, reimagine, re-gift, and then recycle.
∗ Use real napkins, dishes, glasses, and cutlery rather than paper or plastic.
∗ Purchase locally to support artisans and growers while you reduce the carbon footprint of overseas manufacturing, shipping, and delivery.
∗ Search for eco-friendly gift wrap ideas.
∗ Create homemade gifts that come from the heart.
∗ Create gratitude gifts to share with others—what gift did they give you over the last year that touched your heart?
∗ Give gifts of time and attention.
Step 5: Replenish our Resources
This amazing planet gives us so much: air, water, food, and shelter. What do you habitually throw away that could be given back to the Earth?
∗ Take your evergreens to a local tree drop-off site for use as mulch or fish habitat.
∗ Reduce food waste by careful purchasing.
∗ Reduce or eliminate air travel—one of the prime emitters of carbon dioxide—and if you have to travel by air, consider purchasing carbon credits to offset some of your impact.
∗ Compost your food waste either at home or through a residential compost collection company.
∗ Start a daily home meditation practice for clarity on the true meaning of the holidays for yourself and your family. Download the Insight Timer app or connect with a meditation teacher.
∗ Practice mindfulness to notice what stresses you out and what makes your heart sing.
∗ Create a gratitude board as a reset to the onslaught from media and advertising.
Celebrating the holidays consciously and mindfully can jump start the shifts you’ll make in your everyday choices throughout the year.
You’ll know you’re making a vital difference to the health of the planet with each simple, conscious change you make this holiday season!
Sami Aaron is the founder of the nonprofit, The Resilient Activist, a community resource for those who are fearful, anxious, fatigued or overwhelmed about the climate crisis. Join us for Climate Conversations and more at www.TheResilientActivist.org.