Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
Take Your Climate Action Further this Holiday Season
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Change how you celebrate the holidays to care for the planet.
“It is I who must begin,” Vaclav Havel states in the first line of his poem of the same name. “It is I who must begin. Once I begin, once I try — here and now, right where I am, not excusing myself by saying things would be easier elsewhere, without grand speeches and ostentatious gestures, but all the more persistently — to live in harmony.”
In this statement, he issues a clarion call to himself, and each of us, to start right where we are. I think this is good advice for climate action, and one that I took to heart a couple of years ago.
It is I who must begin. Once I begin, once I try -- here and now, right where I am, not excusing myself by saying things would be easier elsewhere, without grand speeches and ostentatious gestures, but all the more persistently - to live in harmony. Vaclav Havel
In 2018, something in me shifted towards the end of the year, although I’d been doing my best to live a green life for the past 20 years, I realized if I was truly concerned about leaving a habitable planet for future generations, I needed to do more to change my lifestyle. Since it was not long before the winter holidays, I started with how I wanted to celebrate with my family. To share my thinking with them, I wrote to everyone in my large extended family about the changes I was making.
As the letter is as relevant now as it was then, I am re-sharing excerpts from the letter I included in a November 2019 post in the hope you will find it helpful as you think about how you might take a larger climate step in your own life as we end 2020 and enter 2021. Consider it my holiday gift to you!
As you read, notice if anything jumps out as something you’d like to implement in your own life.
What letter might you write to your loved ones? What new action might you take?
As an environmental-activist-mom-grandma, I care deeply about the planet I am leaving to you. As you know, in my former work with Green America, I focus on solutions for climate change. And now that I’m semi-retired, I am still motivated to address the crisis before us.
Recently, my concern has ballooned. If we (as a world community, nation states, communities, corporations, small businesses, and individuals) do not dramatically change our production, consumer, transportation, and energy systems, then life will become much less tenable for everyone, and MUCH worse for those who are less fortunate than us.
For me, this means that I cannot go on living my life as if everything is normal. I want to do whatever I can to contribute to solving this world emergency in the short window of time we have.
I am committed to taking significant personal action. I want to live in integrity with my values and no longer wish to treat the earth as an unlimited resource (which it is not, but which our consumer society assumes). Hence, I am committing to:
Buy only what I need, not what I want. I am going on a clothes diet and will only buy the necessities.
Give gifts that are meaningful experiences, not objects that require a lot of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to make and transport.
Continue to purchase 100% wind and solar power for our house and drive hybrid/electric cars.
Continue to buy healthy organic food that helps the soil and eliminates the use of GHG producing fertilizer and nasty pesticides, which are not good for us or the soil.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle as much I can.
Eliminate as much plastic, packaging, and shipping as possible in my life. Buying less will help this.
Take part more in the sharing economy, including giving items I no longer use to someone who can use them and looking for recycled and reusable items when I need something. I've found organizations like Freecycle.org helpful.
Offset any future travel emissions with renewable energy credits.
So, what does this mean for the Holidays?
We request that you do not give us any objects, clothing, etc. as gifts. Instead, we would love fun experiences with you, coupons for your time and help, something you have made for us, or donations to organizations that are seriously working on climate change solutions. (Check out the list I created).
We will give a few small items for the grandkids (probably like-new recycled items) but other than that, we will give non-material gifts, something we make, or items we already own and love but are ready to share.
Instead of filling stockings, we can play games, create decorations, bake cookies, have fun, and make memories together.
We will also make donations to organizations working on climate change for everyone in the family.
I encourage you to consider thinking about joining us in adopting this approach to the holidays in your own lives, not just with us. How much more stuff do you really need?
And why not extend it beyond the Holidays? We each can decrease our impact on the planet over the course of the whole year.
I want the urgent reality of our situation to drive us to take significant enough action to create a thriving world for all life, for many, many generations to come.
I want to see us create a global community where our connectedness to each other, and the planet we live on, informs how we take care of this fragile Earth and each other.
With all my heart,
Eco-Omi, Mom, Krista