A Sustainable Christmas

Via Growing a Greener World

Via Growing a Greener World

A Sustainable Christmas (Week #50)


In the 2012 – 52 Week Sustainable Practices Challenge, my blog entry about a “TerraBlu Christmas” reflected on the coming holiday and its consumptive waste stream nature. In it I suggested some sustainable products and practices you and your family could integrate into your lifestyles. It was a great blog entry and those suggestions and links are still good today.

This year, I want to reinvent the holiday, yet again. I’ve tried to raise sustainable consciousness with decades of experiments on my family and friends. I subjected them to all kinds of practicing the six R’s of sustainability (Rethink, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Reduce and Repurpose). Giving charitable gifts in the name of the person I’m gifting, wrapping my gifts in reusable textile wrappings I made from recycled fabrics, gifting green consumer goods, green services, gift certificates, repurposed furniture (with eco-friendly paint), gift certificates or memberships to nature preserves, watersheds or land trusts, etc. Well you get the idea.

Last year I gave the bounty of an organic garden that my daughter and I lovingly nurtured. We had an amazing and sometimes hilarious experience canning and preserving our much loved garlic dill pickles, our Asian Eggplant Camponata and many varieties of tomatoes. We had so many lovely herbs that we experimented that year with infused vinegars, oils, several chutneys and of course, our blackberry framboise.

Those experiences of gardening, laughing, canning and cooking trump the increasing addiction of “digital relation shipping”. We asked all guests to park their smart devices on our digital hat rack before entering!

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I think many have forgotten that giving our love and time are the most valuable gifts of all. 

This year we are going to give homemade hard cider, our sumptuous organic gifts from the garden, including infused oils and vinegar and, for the first time, our “Kindness” coupons. That’s right, acts of kindness coupons. We are recycling Christmas cards into postcards with a customized service for the person to redeem at a later time. It could be babysitting their children so your favorite couple can go out one night, shoveling the walkway of a dear less able relative, bringing a meal to someone who is sick, or offering to volunteer for a day at their favorite charitable organization.

Think of it as a Pay it Forward Coupon to help the greater human consciousness vibrate at a more radiant level!

This week I want you to think about reinventing your holiday experience by incorporating a sustainable practice of your own. Start a family tradition. Or make the tradition of giving a new theme each year; one that fosters kindness and generosity that can be practiced all year.

Be creative and make a sustainable statement to the world. Like NIKE, just do it. Don’t wait to make a New Year’s resolution about it, just do it. And make it fun, please!

Send us your ideas and how they worked in the comments section. Make Merry!

The Deep Dive:

How to Choose a Living Christmas Tree

A modern sustainable Christmas tree, the Tannenboing Only 100 were made in 2012. This link is for their FB page where you can connect with collector’s who may be willing to sell.

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TechChrunch’s article on Digital Hat Racks

Holiday Traveling and Hosting the Susty Way

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 8.04.44 PMHoliday Traveling and Hosting the Susty Way (Week #49)

The What and Why:

It is that time of year when many of us travel to or host friends, visitors and family. We can impact climate change by consciously understanding our impact socially, culturally, economically and environmentally.

Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping.
Sustainable hospitality is when a host or hostess practices sustainably by buying healthy non-GMO food from local organic sources (fostering wellness and regional disease immunity), by serving Vegan (reduction of GHG emissions), composting their waste (carbon sequestration), using real linens, going paperless for invitations, and ideally in your all renewable energy home!

This week’s focus is to learn how to be a sustainably conscious traveller or become a sustainably conscious host.

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The How of Sustainable Hospitality:

Although this link is basically for hotels, it is worth viewing to understand how you can DIY your home and hosting to become a more sustainable host or hostess.

The How of Sustainable Travel:

  1. Book your vacation or holiday at a sustainable resort, hotel or location. There are regional, national and global certification systems that you can research on the internet that will help you determine if your destination actualized sustainable best practices. There are many locations that use renewable energy only and are in some of the most exclusive remote locations and they are affordable! Airbnb is a sustainable way to travel and the hosts tend to engage in sustainable practices.
  2. Learn about your destination’s history, politics, cultural events, cuisine, geography, etc. This will enrich your experience and show your respect for the community and culture you are visiting. Consider your impact and try becoming an accidental ambassador!
  3. Learn some basic phrases in their language; such as “please”, “thank you”, “can you help me”, etc.
  4. Dress appropriately, act respectfully and realize that you have an impact on the community you are entering.
  5. Buy local, eat locally produced products and purchase services from local owners. If you want souvenirs, get them sustainably.
  6. Use water sparingly and carry a reusable water bottle.
  7. Save energy by using your towels as long as you would at home. Turn off the lights,    and conserve heat and air conditioner consumption.
  8. Choose your activities wisely so that fossil fuel usage is limited.
  9. Bring some local treasure from home to give to hosts and hostesses.
  10. Protect your natural surroundings and wildlife, wherever you go.
  11. Practice the 6 R’s away from home too! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Refuse, Rethink.
  12. Consider your travel destination’s sustainability practices regarding housekeeping, waste removal, composting, fair labor, environmental record and commitment to peace before you book your trip.
  13. Whatever hobby or interest you have, try pursuing it at your destination to enjoy their point of view or technique.
  14. Contribute something besides money to the community you are visiting by researching volunteer opportunities beforehand.
  15. And above all, have fun! Get off the beaten path, remain open, flexible and get out from behind the camera, away from your smart device and immerse yourself in another culture. 

The Deep Dive:

Ethical Traveler’s 13 tips for the Accidental Ambassador

Sustainable Travel International

Green Globe – global certification for sustainable tourism

Go Green Travel Green’s article Sustainable Souvenirs: How to Find Them and Why Buy Them

Martha Stewart’s way to Host an Eco-Friendly Party

Re-Occupy Main Street

Reoccupy Main Street/CC BY 2.0

Reoccupy Main Street/CC BY 2.0

Re-Occupy Main Street (Week # 47)

The WHAT and WHY:

As we approach this holiday time of year, many feel helpless and succumb to social and cultural pressures that influence our choices. Not at TerraBluTeams.

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As we approach Black Friday, I suggest you read my 2011 post,  A Sustainable Holiday Weekend: A Buy Nothing Day, Shop Local Day and Make Something Day. In the graphic above you can recognize most all of the suggestions I made that year. This year I suggest a deeper dive.

This week’s practice is to Occupy Black Friday, in your own way, by standing up and taking back your power to influence the quadruple bottom line (Economic, Environmental, Social, Cultural). 

THE HOW: (here are just a few suggestions to get the ball rolling)

• Pay your employees to take Thanksgiving and Black Friday off like REI.

• If you must shop during the holidays, say no to credit cards, buy with cash to avoid contributing to banker’s pockets and thus supporting their agendas.

• Boycott stores with striking workers and support picketers who favor fair labor practices.

• Buy local thereby decreasing GHG emissions, supporting your community and neighbors, for your own health and social connectivity.

• Take a deeper dive, with a friend who differs from your own cultural/spiritual holiday rituals, reaffirm your roots, extend an understanding to them AND take the opportunity to honor theirs. (See my post about UnThanksgiving Day).

• Give a “family gift certificate” to a family in need. Make a coupon book of services (babysitting, mowing the lawn, Sunday dinner, car wash, trip to a museum, etc.)

• Best of all, you could NOT SHOP on Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday or Black Friday – send a message to stores that employees should be able to stay home with families and enjoy the day off.

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Please send us your comments and feedback!

The Deep Dive:

International Buy Nothing Day

Occupy Black Friday

Buy Nothing Day/Occupy Xmas

Small Business Saturday

Re-Occupy Main Street

Stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day

Huffington Post 11/15/12 article on Black Friday Strikers

Youtube video on Walmart strikes by labor journalist, Josh Eidelson (21 minutes) Interesting examination of Walmart’s labor “philosophy”.