Holiday Creation Care

posted on December 01

During this season of Advent, when we, as Christians, prepare for and anticipate the arrival of the Messiah, our King and Savior, it seems only fair to acknowledge that many of us are also preparing for and anticipating the cultural aspects of celebrating the holiday of Christmas through the giving and receiving of gifts with our family and friends. I certainly know that I am!

From a creation care standpoint, the holiday of Christmas, and all that goes with it, has significant negative impacts on God’s gift of Creation, from the additional resources used to make, package, ship, and wrap all our thoughtful gifts, to the increased volume of waste that ends up in landfills from this whole process. So, what might we do to lessen these negative impacts while still participating in the holiday cheer that has become a culturally important way of sharing our love with family and friends?

Certainly, with our access to the Internet and the Google search engine that puts everything at our fingertips, we can “Google” things, like eco-friendly Christmas gifts, eco-friendly wrapping ideas, eco-friendly holiday meal suggestions, and so on, and then implement as many as we can each year to lessen our impact on God’s creation. For example, did you know that Patagonia now donates all their profits to “the Earth?” And that craft paper is a lovely, eco-friendly way to wrap gifts because it is fully recyclable? There is even a technique called Furoshiki where gifts are wrapped in a decorative, reusable scarf that becomes part of the gift. Examples of eco-friendly gift ideas include making a memory together, buying season memberships to zoos and museums, or giving tickets to various sporting events, as well as baking and giving of your time. These are all great ideas and there are many, many more available online.

Additionally, though, a great idea that a friend mentioned this year, which really resonated with me, was to focus on life-giving and life-sustaining gifts and practices throughout our holiday celebrations. With that in mind, we could assure that our Christian values would be appropriately reflected throughout our cultural celebrations. For example, whether we decide to buy a live, cut, or artificial Christmas tree, how we use it and later dispose of it should be done so in a life-promoting manner. After the holiday, the live tree could be planted in our yard or donated to a local church or school for planting; the cut tree could be placed in our backyard to provide a windbreak and refuge for wildlife, or chipped up for mulch, or donated to a dune-restoration program; and an artificial tree that was no longer useable as a tree could be taken apart to build wreathes or other greenery to decorate our homes, or branches removed and used as decorations on gifts. All these are life-promoting options and support our Christian values.

The same principle will work for gift giving and receiving, for decorating our homes, and for preparing our holiday meals – if we intentionally consider the best way to “promote life” in our selection, use, and eventual disposal, of all the many resources that go into our method of celebrating the holiday of Christmas.

And with that, I wish you each a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kim Richmond
Convener, 2020-2024 for the WNCC Creation Care Ministry