|"During this busy [Christmas]
period Australians travel
more, ear more, drink more
and buy more than at any
other time of the year.
This also means we have
a bigger impact on the
environment now than
at any other time..."
- Planet Ark
While Christmas and the New Year are often considered to be the main festivities of the year, there are many times when people of faith will gather together in celebration or solemnity throughout the year. Below are a number of ideas and resources that can help you to ensure that these important times do not place undue burden on our precious earth. While many of the resources were developed for Christmas, they can easily be adapted for any type of gathering.
Serve meat-free meals
ARRCC encourage supporters to consider reducing their meat consumption during gatherings by serving meat -free meals. Reducing meat consumption is one of the most effective things people can do to reduce their greenhouse gas pollutions, and ensure food availability for the poor. In the same way that many faith communities have taken an ethical stance on Fair Trade tea, coffee and chocolate, we ask you to consider a similar ethical stance on meat.
If you can't imagine your festive feast without a traditional meat dish, then consider serving just one meat dish surrounded by a number of delicious vegetarian dishes. Check out ARRCC's meat free recipe booklets.
ARRCC together with the Buddhist Council of NSW has also produced a poster that you could print out and have in your house or place of worship inviting people to reflect on our food choices.
Reduce your consumption
It's easy to get into a shopping frenzy when preparing for a celebration or festivity - however everything we buy represents an investment in energy and water, and an output of greenhouse gas. There are many fun and interesting ways to celebrate that show family, friends and members of your faith community that your care for them and for the planet.
Some easy ways to reduce your consumption are set out below. Click on the links below for more information from Planet Ark's website.
- Hand making decorations , or buying good quality ones that can be reused for many years. If you have perfectly good decorations but are just looking for a different look this year, why not swp yours with family and friends?
In addition to considering meat-free meals, ensure you don't waste food by carefully considering how much you will really need, and find inventive ways to serve up leftovers in the following days. Also look try to buy food with minimal packacing that is made from recylaed materials and is also recyclable.
During your festivities, choose re-usable plates and cutlery , or alternatively select bamboo and palm leaf picnic plates and bowls that can be reused several times then composted at the end of the season.
If gift giving is part of the festive tradition, consider wrapping gifts in recycled gift wrap, or in newspapers, old maps, Sunday comics, old sheets of music or even old fabrics. Alternatively use brown paper and a colourful bow. You can also use kids' artwork a perfect wrapping for presents to proud grandparents. Finally, consider wrapping that can be reused, such as a scarf, bandanna, calico bag or tea towel.
- You can also hand make greeting cards from scratch, or by recycling last year's cards.
Remember to recycle all of your party hats, empty champagne bottles, corks, beer bottles, aluminium cans, fruit mince pie trays and biscuit tins.
Don't let the festive season blow out your energy use . At home or away, keep up with energy efficient practices while on holiday. And while most of us know that water is precious, when we're on holidays we can forget to keep our water use in mind. Whether you're at home or elsewhere, do some of the little things to help conserve this precious resource.
If you need to travel, consider how you'll be travelling there. (Transport is the second largest contributor to climate change!!) It's important not only to travel safely, but also to travel in a way that is as safe as possible for the planet.