The purpose of this email is to help busy people in the Greater Rochester Area find opportunities to join the fight against global warming. These emails are usually distributed twice per month and include 3-4 actions you can take to help stop climate change, but this holiday edition is a bit different and will be the last update of the year. Read on to learn how you can quickly and easily do your part to protect the planet.
Quick Climate Fact
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holiday travel, celebration, decoration, and gift-giving cause a dramatic rise in energy usage at this time of year. “The volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.”
As the name suggests, Thanksgiving invites us to reflect on and express gratitude for life’s blessings. Though we all need and enjoy material possessions to some extent, chances are that we value our relationships with friends, family, and other loved ones even more. We may also be grateful for our natural environment, opportunities to learn and grow as individuals, personal safety and security, or any number of other things. Talking about these sources of gratitude at your Thanksgiving celebration is a great way to initiate conversation about how your holiday traditions do or do not reflect your values. This can lead to a fruitful (and hopefully peaceful) discussion of how common holiday activities can contribute to global warming.
Take this opportunity to ask your loved ones to give you “green” gifts (or no gifts at all) and tell them why this is important to you. You’ll probably need to give them specific examples of what constitutes a “green” gift (see below for more details). If your Thanksgiving traditions include Black Friday shopping, experiment with alternative activities that are more in line with your values and encourage others to do the same.
Gift-Giving Holidays (Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/
Sustainable gift-giving does not require sacrifice and deprivation. On the contrary, it’s likely to result in gifts that are exceptionally meaningful and memorable, precisely because the gift-giver will need to use his or her imagination and step outside the “big box” consumer mindset dominates our culture. Few gifts are entirely emissions free, but some are clearly worse for the environment than others. For example, giving experiences and services is typically better for the environment than giving things, with the clear exception of energy-intensive experiences like skydiving. Experience-based gifts such as tickets to local concerts, visits to local museums, classes at local dance studios, and meals at local (vegetarian!) restaurants are (1) relatively eco-friendly, (2) supportive of your community’s economy, and (3) opportunities for meaningful interaction with the people you care about. Similarly, services such as massage, housekeeping, and childcare make for thoughtful, sustainable gifts, while also potentially saving you money (if you provide the service yourself). For more experience and service-based gift ideas (some of which are not at all eco-friendly!), see https://www.datevitation.
If you feel strongly about wanting to give tangible objects as gifts, consider buying them secondhand and/or buying locally produced items. Rochester has several stores that sell gently used clothing and other items (e.g., Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet, and Savers), and on Dec. 5-6, Metro Justice is hosting its 33rd annual Alternative Fair, “featuring thousands of unique fair trade, earth friendly, and locally produced goods that support a strong local economy and a just and sustainable world.” See their website for more information. It’s worth buying well-made items that can be used for a long time without falling apart. Also be cautious of products that are advertised as “green” but are still just useless junk that nobody needs. Lastly, consider giving gifts that directly educate and raise awareness about global warming, such as climate-themed books and t-shirts. Just be careful not to accidentally purchase a gift that promotes climate change denialism! Sadly, there are a lot of those out there.
New Year’s Day
With the start of the new year, commit to some small, regular action or lifestyle change that contributes to the fight against global warming. For example, you could cut down on how much meat you eat, join a local climate-focused organization and faithfully attend their meetings, or pledge to follow through with at least two of the actions suggested in every Rochester Climate Action update. The possibilities are endless! Just pick something that works for you and stick with it. Future generations will thank you for it!
Spread the Word
- Forward this email to friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. Don’t be shy! You never know who might be interested in saving the world. If someone would prefer not to receive these emails from you in the future, they will let you know. When forwarding this message to multiple people, enter their addresses using the blind carbon copy function (bcc) to protect everyone’s privacy.
- Visit RochesterClimateAction.
org, click on “Action Updates,” and use the share buttons to post this newsletter on Facebook and other social media sites.
- Become a Rochester Climate Action “frontline contact.” Frontline contacts receive bimonthly emails directly from us, rather than having to wait for someone else to forward them on. Frontline contacts who distribute the email to their personal contacts are acting as true leaders in the fight against climate change. If you’d like to be a frontline contact, simply send an email saying so to rochesterclimateaction@
- Talk to people about global warming! Tell them why you are concerned and politely suggest that they should be too. Again, don’t be shy. These are important conversations that we should all be having.
Words of Wisdom from a Local Activist
“What keeps me going? Just the inconvenient fact that the future of the planet is at stake. Can I live with myself if I sit this one out?” Charlotte Baltus (engaged citizen)
This message was written by Abigail McHugh-Grifa on behalf of RochesterClimateAction.org.
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