How to Celebrate Green
October 2, 2008 · Print This Article
A little by a year ago, I was doing some research for The Green Parent and looking for great green ways for families to celebrate the holidays. That’s when I ran across knowledge about Corey Colwell-Lipson and her organization, Green Halloween. The premise behind Green Halloween is not just to build Oct 31st a more eco-savvy holiday, but to do so in a way that preserves the fun and magic while ditching the cheap plastic trinkets and overprocessed sugar.
I interviewed Corey for The Green Parent and was lucky decent to meet her and her equally eco-dedicated mom, Lynn Colwell at the Seattle Green Festival last April.
These women made me ridiculously excited about Halloween and how it can be a fun, simple, eco-friendly holiday again. So it came as no surprise to me to take in that these two green moms are greening up the rest of our holidays with the release of their new book, Celebrate Green: Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations, and Traditions for the Whole Family.
Here’s what Green Parents Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell have to say about celebrating green.
1. What was the “a-ha” moment for you that made you want to start going green?
Corey: I don’t recall any specific moment. For me, going green has been (and still is) a process. I became a vegetarian at age 15, not for environmental reasons, but as the years progressed and I learned more about the impact of our diets on the planet, I started making changes. But when I had my first daughter, in 2001, I began researching… about plastic baby toys, diapers, food, cleaning supplies… That’s when my green fate was sealed. I knew that I wanted to create a safe and healthy home for my child and that I would do what I could to manufacture the world a safe and healthy home as well - not just for my family, but for all of us.
Lynn: In some ways, without knowing that’s what it was, I’ve been partially green all of my adult life. folks always came before things to me so gifts were very often handmade. I’ve always enjoyed collecting old papers and assorted “junk” and turning it into usable items that I’m happy to share. Celebrations in our family focused on having a fun instance and as an adult, I always asked citizens to bring a donation to the food bank instead of gifts to me. As Corey became more passionate about creating a healthy home for her family though, I became more interested in what she was choosing and why. But honestly, the real light bulb moments for me came while researching and writing Celebrate Green! It became increasingly clear to me that I needed to embrace the ideals we were talking about or I would never be able to live with myself. It wasn’t a difficult choice to manufacture and I didn’t manufacture it out of pragmatism, but rather out of a conviction that living in a way less injurious to citizens and the Earth is most in line with the person I believe myself to be.
2. Why do you think it’s so urgent to celebrate green?
Corey and Lynn: A lot of citizens say, “Halloween/Christmas/Birthdays/etc. is just one day. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that when you add up all the times we celebrate in a year (don’t forget office parties!) and multiply that by how many citizens we have on that planet - that’s a lot of celebrating. And usually, celebrating comes with a lot of stuff. So even though many of us have been going green in our daily lives, we were throwing it all out the window during our most special times of the year. And the Earth is suffering for it. During the winter holidays, for example, Americans create 25% more waste! So, when we noticed that no one was really talking about greening up celebrations and providing simple, fun, easy-to-do ideas, we realized that we had an opportunity to do so. The other reason we think it’s critical is that going green is that when we place less emphasis on the stuff, we have the opportunity to create more meaning, which is really what it’s all about.
3. What is your favorite holiday and how do you form it green?
Corey: For me, it’s a tie amoung baby showers and Christmas. I love Christmas considering the holiday, for me, is all about traditions. And my family has a lot of them. Traditions are crucial considering with them, we can create deep meaning independent of all the “stuff.” Green baby showers are additionally a favorite considering what better way to welcome a new life and to celebrate a new family than to say, “we care about you and your future”?
Lynn: Hard for me to choose considering I love to celebrate. But I have to say birthdays are right at the top of the list, particularly my own (she says modestly). I am always so grateful to have survived another year considering so many of my friends are no longer here and I know how precious life is. An opportunity to show my gratitude for all I have while laughing and surrounded by others with no agenda to impress or do anything other than have fun, is my ideal celebration. For the last 15 years or so, I’ve celebrated by birthday by throwing a hike and chili-feed. The hiking part obviously always has been green, but as for the rest of the party, I no longer buy paper plates, balloons, plastic tableware or paper table clothes. I use ribbons, fabric table cloths, terry cloth napkins and all the plates, glasses and tableware I own. I energize humans to use organic ingredients for their chili. Since their gifts to me are donations to the food bank, there is no wrapping paper to toss.
4. What was the most surprising thing you learned while researching Celebrate Green?
Corey: That there’s a massive “plastic soup” dump in the Pacific Ocean. Just another reminder that we all need to do our part to reduce our use of plastics, which are created from a non-renewable resource and never actually biodegrade.
Lynn: The sheer numbers that come into play like these statistics from the Eco Justice Collaborative www.ecojusticecollaborative.org ” whether we’d only recycle one-tenth of the cans we now throw away, we’d save about 3.2 billion of them every year.” And another one, “The aluminum wasted in 2001 was greater than the amount used nationally for trucks, buses, bridges, street and highway applications combined.” The reason these things seem so surprising is that we tend to focus on ourselves (I’m just as guilty as anyone) and disregard the potential consequences of millions repeating the action. We don’t want to confess that we are part of the problem. But on the positive side, these statistics give me hope. considering it’s obvious that all it takes is changing one small thing to create spectacular change for the good.
[Source] Jenn Savedge