During the holiday season, which for me is stressful more often than not, I find it useful to change my perspective and look at the big picture. Most years, this means reminding myself that no matter how much my family members irritate me (after too much time spent in close quarters), I still love them, and even though I have to travel pretty far to be with them, I'm still glad to be in good company over the holidays. This year however, I switched my mindset in a new way: I muted the voice inside my head that rants and raves about the poor decisions made by the government (you know, the usual, policies that will cause harm to human and environmental health). What did I pay attention to instead? The little things!
Over the past week I experienced small moments of delight whenever I noticed a simple action taken by my family members to reduce their environmental footprint and protect their health. Take for instance my mom, who saves water every time she takes a shower. As you can see in the photo above, she keeps large juice bottles in the bathroom so that she can fill them with the cold water that runs out of the tap before the hot water makes its way from the heater in the basement to the shower on the second floor. Later, she uses the juice bottles to fill a watering can which she uses on her indoor plants. Brilliant!
There were little things of a green nature in my brother and sister-in-law's home, too, like organic milk. Keeping pesticide-laden feed, copious amounts of antibiotics, and unnecessary synthetic growth hormones away from dairy farms means healthier cows, healthier humans, fewer superbugs, and a safer environment. My brother also attached his indoor Christmas lights to a timer so that they wouldn't run all night, and my sister-in-law told me the car sits unused for one or two weeks at a time. In the kitchen I found dish soap containing only natural fragrances and no phthalates. The list goes on!
I received some great eco-friendly gifts, too, like a bottle opener made from post-consumer materials that is completely recyclable, an energy-efficient electric blanket that will let me turn my thermostat even lower than I already do overnight, and a teflon-free rice cooker made of stainless steel in a double-boiler configuration. At a time of year marked by unnecessary consumption, excessive gift-wrapping, food waste, and high carbon emissions from extensive travelling, it was an absolute pleasure to delight in these lovely things.
What green actions does your family engage in? What green products did you receive as gifts?