December 15 Earthgauge radio podcast: less garbage, less stress and more enjoyment this holiday season
Click the audio player to listen to the latest edition of Earthgauge radio, which is a bi-weekly broadcast every other Thursday morning from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa. You can also right click here to download the show.
On Earthgauge this week, it’s our holiday season special show. Huge amounts of waste are produced during the holiday season, more than any other time of year. I talk with Paula Richardson of the Canadian Hunger Foundation about their Gifts That Matter campaign. We also hear from Trevor Hache of Ecology Ottawa about the City of Ottawa’s plans to deal with its growing waste problem by signing a long-term contract with Plasco Energy. Also an update from journalist Felix Von Geyer on the recently concluded climate summit in Durban, South Africa and the Canadian government’s announcement that it is officially bailing on the Kyoto Protocol. Way to go Canada!
During the holidays, many of us race around frantically shopping to find something special for everyone on our list and sometimes spending a heck of a lot of money doing it. On the other hand, we have all received gifts that we don’t like or want. And who among us has not looked at all those Christmas gifts and wondered “where the heck is this all going to go?”. All the packaging, the gift wrap, the consumption, the shameful excess in a world of poverty – there is no other time of year like it.
Here are a few facts from ecofriendlyplanet.com (apologies that these are US stats as I couldn’t locate similar figures for Canada but I’m sure we would see similar numbers here):
- Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. Of those, about 30 million go to the landfill. (Environmental News Network).
- 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year in the States, which means 200,000 trees will be cut down to make holiday cards just in the U.S. alone
- Wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the U.S. Due to the materials in wrapping paper and ribbon such as dyes, laminates, plastic and so on, these products typically can’t be recycled.
- About 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season, which if improperly discarded can cause mercury pollution.
Meanwhile the holiday season has become an incredibly stressful time for many people instead of being a time of peace and relaxation amidst a busy life. Too many people have come to dread the approach of the holidays, a season that should be the most relaxed, intimate and joyful time of the year.
A few more stats to throw out at you: in the US the material standard of living has more than doubled since the 1950s yet levels of reported happiness are either unchanged or even slightly lower. According to the Worldwatch Institute, North Americans have used more natural resources since the end of World War II than all of humanity used in all the time before.
So, isn’t there a better way to celebrate the holidays? More and more people seem to think so and they are hungry for alternatives. We are increasingly seeing folks buying fewer or simpler gifts, making their own presents or even giving gifts to charity in a person’s name. Some have limited their holiday spending to $100 maximum while others have foregone gift giving altogether in favour of spending time together or giving something that will not just get stuffed away in a closet somewhere – maybe theatre or movie tickets, gifts of food or a restaurant gift certificate.
Throughout our holiday show today, you’ll hear some clips courtesy of the Metro Vancouver holiday garbage campaign. Folks out there in BC are trying to get people to rethink gift giving around Christmas time and they are suggesting ways to reduce waste so they’ve produced some funny and informative online videos that we will check out.
Feel free to add comments, suggestions or resources that could help people enjoy a more meaningful and less wasteful holiday season this year.
Please do get in touch if you have something you want to say or if you want to get involved or contribute to the show. Contact me at earthgaugeradio ‘at’ gmail.com.