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Network suggests simpler ways to celebrate

Given that the holidays generate about 25 percent more solid waste than other times of the year, the Faith and Environment Network of the Inland Northwest offered an opportunity in November for people to look at alternative gifts, wrappings and crafts.

Faith & Environment craft day
Evita Krislock helps children with crafts.

Wanda Daehlin, a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran who is active in the network, said, “Too often, we shop and shop, but we’re not happy about how we celebrate Christmas.  The best gift we can give anyone during the holidays or any time is to give ourselves.”

Felicia Reilly, who helped coordinate the event, introduced several vendors who are marketing environmentally sustainable soap, candies, jams, snacks, merchandise and candles.  She also introduced options for people to donate to the global relief and development work and to community ministries.

She also offered “Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season.”

• By planning ahead, people can decide what traditions are most important and how they want their holiday to be.  When they decide on meals and events, they can list the tasks and make plans to shift from a “sometimes chaotic season” and from impulse buying and overspending.

Buying locally supports local businesses, especially those who support fair trade and make their own items.  It also supports the community.  “Shopping online is not necessarily greener because of the impact of shipping and packaging,” Felicia said.

Buying services, such as gift certificates, supports local business without packaging.

• Making gifts, decorations, Christmas cards and treats can be fun for families.

Shopping at local thrift stores saves money and recycles DVDs, appliances, sweaters and more.

Exploring nature rather than spending time in shopping malls, gives a break from a hectic life.

“Sometimes the best way to celebrate is to go outside for a walk with our children and pick up pine cones and evergreen branches to decorate naturally,” Felicia said.

Donating to an organization in the name of a gift recipient is a way to transform lives.

• Instead of giving poinsettias, she suggests giving to Floresta, a Christian nonprofit that reverses deforestation and poverty.

• Most important is to have fun with family and friends.

“Remember your blessings and help bless those around you,” Felicia said.  “Don’t worry if the house is messy,  the food isn’t perfect or gifts aren’t big enough.  We need to enjoy what we have and have hope for the coming year.”

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