The Creation Care Team offers the following ideas for an ecologically green Christmas that is kind to God’s creation.
1. Shop locally to avoid the extra carbon footprint associated with the time products spend on trucks and planes. For out of town gift recipients, shopping online and having gifts shipped directly to recipients may be the better option.
2. Utilize reusable gift bags or re-usable fabric gift wrap and reuse last year’s Christmas cards to make gift tags. Let your children decorate brown paper shopping bags with their art work or hand prints and use them as wrapping paper. The comics section of the Sunday paper also makes good gift wrap.
3. Choose gifts that have minimal packaging.
4. Minimize the number of hours that holiday lights are left on. Consider use of LED Christmas tree lights which are very low power consumers and very long-lasting.
5. Purchase sustainable gifts like fair trade coffee or handicrafts, animals from The Heifer Project, gifts from the ELCA Good Gifts catalog or from Lutheran World Relief.
6. Shop from your favorite charity. Your purchase not only provides a gift, but also uses part of the purchase price toward support of the charitable cause.
7. Give the gift of your time or talent: Free babysitting with one of the Graco FastAction-Fold-Click-Connect stroller for each baby, special baked goods, jams, relish or yummy casseroles, or a holiday dinner at your home.
8. Other gift suggestions are movie tickets, cooking classes or something special for a collector from the antique mall.
Have you noticed the new addition to the church parking lot area? Yes, we have a beautiful new bike rack, but there is something less conspicuous, tucked away in the southwest corner of the lot. The Creation Care team thanks Carolyn Phillips for her generous donation of a Composting Tumber! Starter material containing beneficial microbes was placed in the tumber and for the past few months, church staff have been adding lunch/kitchen scraps as appropriate. Eventually we hope to expand our efforts to include composting material generated from multiple church events. Of course the compost we generate will be a great source of nutrients for the churchyard.
You may wish to consider home composting as a relatively easy way to reduce waste sent to local landfills, while providing organic material for your garden. Composting in a tumbler is fairly simple. To begin, add a starter compost. Then add compostable materials (see below). The goal is to have an approximate ratio of 1 part greens to 3 parts brown, but this is not critical for a tumbler. Smaller pieces decay faster. Just be sure to turn the crank on the tumbler regularly.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
“Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), “Conclusion,” Walden, 1854
“’Tis a gift to be simple
‘Tis a gift to be free
‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight
When the true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight.
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.”
Elder Joseph Brackett, Shaker hymn, 1848
Despite drawing heavily on the Judeo-Christian tradition, environmental theology also contains major new theological elements. In the western religious tradition to return to an original state of nature has been to return to the sinless condition of mankind in the Garden of Eden, or for many secular theologies of the modern age, to some primitive tribal existence. Current environmental theologians, however, now have available to them the fairly recent scientific knowledge that for all but a very limited recent span, nature did not include human beings. To return to the original nature of creation thus might now be interpreted to mean a return to a state of nature that preceded human influence.
This theological logic is today exhibited in the formal criteria for designation of wilderness areas, where it is precisely the absence of signs of human presence that must be documented. Following a similar logic, the National Park Service maintains a policy to avoid interfering with nature and to seek to return to original natural conditions preceding human influence (thus, man-made fires are fought but “natural” fires are allowed to burn). The government goes to great lengths to regulate very small quantities of man-made pesticides, but sees little problem in the widespread presence of dangerous pesticides that are created naturally by plants and vegetables. Global warming due to natural causes would be a cause for concern, but would no doubt stimulate much less public alarm than warming due to a buildup of gases caused by human activities. In each case the violation of nature is the basic concern, not the risk or other impact on human well-being.
Adapted from: Robert H. Nelson
Unoriginal Sin: The Judeo-Christian Roots of Ecotheology The Heritage Foundation; Policy Review 1990 Summer; SECTION: No. 53; Pg. 52