3 Ways to Have a Sustainable Holiday (They’re Probably Not What You Think)
The term sustainable usually elicits images of conservation and “going green”- things like recycling bins or wind turbines, or perhaps even tree-planting parties. In many instances, our sustainable efforts focus exclusively on impacting the earth’s ecological and biological systems. However, sustainability can have a much broader scope than simply environmental endeavors.
Communities, for instance, can also strive to be sustainable – but in this respect, the meaning is multifaceted. While environmental factors are usually a part of this definition of sustainability, so are a community’s economic security and political empowerment. Another major impact on the success of a community is the notion of social resilience, which is just starting to be recognized. As Nicole Lurie, a former professor of health policy at both RAND and the University of Minnesota, stated: “There’s a lot of social-science research showing how much better people do in disasters, how much longer they live, when they have good social networks and connections.”
With all these components of community resilience to consider, it turns the notion of having a sustainable holiday on its head. If we’re not focused exclusively on conserving energy and reducing our carbon footprint while juggling guests and holiday parties, what are we focused on?
What it Means to Have a Sustainable Holiday
In terms of improving community sustainability, think civic engagement. Think networks and support systems and fostering neighborly ties. Though it is very important to strive as a community to exist in a climate that protects its ecosystems, conserves its resources, and has an infrastructure that helps to minimize pollution, it’s also crucial to contribute to a region’s economy and social systems.
Ways You Can Contribute
- Shop locally. By contributing to a community’s commerce, you’re helping its local businesses thrive. Even though it might be a bit of a challenge to utilize exclusively small, local businesses for Christmas shopping, it will be well worth the sacrifice.
- Give time or money to local nonprofits. While there are many great national and international non-profit endeavors with noteworthy goals, it’s harder to see tangible results that benefit your own community by donating to a large cancer research fund or to an overseas effort to supply clean water. Instead, redirect those donations to local organizations for the holidays – whether that be a homeless shelter, a pro-literacy group, or perhaps a center for women. Better yet, donate your time and help volunteer for these places in your community.
- Be a member of your community. Though this particular effort should be practiced throughout the year, if you’re not currently an involved member of your community, you can use the holidays as an excuse to educate yourself. Get involved in your local politics and learn what decisions are being made that affect you. Learn what your community’s weaknesses are and how you can help. Is there a large homeless veteran population, for instance? Perhaps this is where you can direct any donations or volunteer efforts.
Though the holidays are traditionally a time to be with family and loved ones, it’s also an excellent time to work for change and growth. Learn about Desmone’s own contributions to community sustainability, and contact us if you want to help but missed the deadline.