A father and his daughter take away a Christmas tree from a tree farm in Anoka, Minn. A real tree is better for the environment than an artificial one, according to the Green Church. CNS photo/Eric Miller, Reuters

Wishing you a Green Christmas

  • December 22, 2013

Wish yourself a Green Christmas this holiday season by staying eco-friendly. The Green Church, a program of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, has provided a list of ideas to decrease waste and reduce your carbon footprint this Christmas season.

“When we look at the story of the Nativity, we don’t see Mary and Joseph spending like crazy and acting in a very rich fashion. It’s quite the opposite,” said Norman Lévesque, director of the Green Church program.

“It’s a story about simplicity and the Green Church invites Christians to rediscover this side of Christmas.”

Simplicity can be applied from decorative lights to food to gift wrap. Sub-titled “Taking care of Creation for Christmas,” the list begins with the recommendation to use LED lights, which use less energy, last longer, are more durable and produce less heat.

And cutting a pine tree is more “green” than purchasing an artificial one. The idea is to purchase a live tree, which can be mulched by a local municipality that offers such a service.

“If every two, three years, someone buys an artificial tree, that goes in a wasteland. And huge parts of the tree are made from petroleum products, which is not a good idea,” said Lévesque.

“Buying an artificial tree too often creates lots of waste.”

He adds that the real tree will absorb CO2, thereby reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which is healthy for the environment.

The list also recommends making handmade popcorn and fresh cranberry chains for decoration, travel tips such as ways to decrease the gas your car consumes, ways to efficiently regulate home temperatures and reducing food waste.

“We (his family) have this big buffet, but in the past three years I’ve brought my plastic containers just to make sure that nothing from that buffet goes in the garbage. I bring my plastic containers and bring some food home and make sure that everything’s been eaten,” said Lévesque.

As for gifts, the list recommends giving gifts of “repaired or refurbished” items or gifts that are environmentally friendly, and then using newspaper or towels to wrap them.

“The newspaper would have been thrown away, so we’re giving it new life,” he said. “Jesus wasn’t born in a palace. He was born in a stable. So it doesn’t look great on the outside, but you have this gift from God inside. So having all our gifts with very simple wrapping, then inside it’s a gift from one of my friends, it’s a gift from one of my parents. It’s quite touching.”

As for towels as wrapping, he adds that they are a gift in themselves.

Some people, Lévesque said, have everything they need, such as his aunt. So he visits Oxfam and purchases a life-changing gift for someone in the Global South in her name.

“I’ve been doing that for a few years now and she just loves that.”

If people want to stay green beyond Christmas, Lévesque said, “God reminds us that our role is not to save the world. That was Jesus’ job. What we’re called to do is to love God’s creation.” And so he invites others to also draw motivation from that call to love.

For the Green Christmas list, visit www.greenchurch.ca.

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