By Alison Taylor
As the Christmas countdown continues and shopping kicks into high gear, consider David Suzuki’s words in a 2003 Science Matters column.
“Much of what we purchase is not essential for our survival or even basic human comfort, but is based on impulse, novelty, a momentary desire. And there is a hidden price that we, nature and future generations will pay for it too.”
Christmas is the time for overindulgence — more spending, more eating, more traveling to see family and friends, more consuming.
“Our choices actually have the biggest impact (on the environment) in three areas: local transportation, our food choices and our energy use choices,” said Randi Kruse, Nature Challenge specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation.
“We know that Canadians are concerned about their impact and we know that they don’t know how to get started. We know that the issues can feel overwhelming.”
Kruse offers some helpful hints to reduce our impact over the holidays.
Consider organizing a car pool when you’re entertaining and having guests over. It not only saves gas money, and ensures there’s a designated driver, but it’s also a way to reduce emissions.
Or if you’re traveling out of town and have to rent a car, renting a compact fuel-efficient vehicle is a better choice than a large SUV.
“Our individual transportation choices are having the biggest impact on global warming,” said Kruse. “Every time we make a choice about how we travel locally we are directly impacting the climate.”
Making informed food choices is another way to a green Christmas. There is a lot of local produce, such as healthy root vegetables, that are available this time of year and haven’t travelled half way across the world to get to your dinner plate.
“The transportation cost of moving food from one part of the world to another is enormous,” said Kruse, encouraging consumers to read labels.
Also, making a conscious choice to cut back on meat is another way to make a difference.
While there have been some inroads on energy choices, with many people now choosing the more energy efficient LED lights both inside and outside the home, there are other ways to reduce energy consumption, particularly when buying electronic items over the holidays.
“Anything electronic can be energy star certified,” she said, meaning the product is energy efficient.
Kruse said it’s critical to ask questions and make informed choices.
Buying less will also make a difference.
That’s the thought behind the Whistler Public Library’s Adopt-A-Book program.
The program is designed to allow someone to “adopt” a book in your name. They can purchase a book from several categories — children’s picture book, non-fiction, bestseller. The person will get a card saying the book has been adopted or donated to the library in their name and a bookplate with their name will be placed in the book. Books range in price from $15 to $100. Head to the library to Adopt-A-Book this Christmas.