A green Christmas

I know I know, I am such a geeek. A green Christmas? Who says that? I’m such a loser. What I mean is, I hope it’s a green christmas covered in snow. Oh and Happy Winter Solstice everyone. We’re halfway there I recon. It’s all downhill from here right. The days will get longer, the sun will rise higher and before you can wax your ski’s you’ll be greasing down your cams and firing up the BBQ. OK, maybe I’m a little ahead of myself, I’m just excited is all. I suppose we need to get through the Holidays first. I leave tomorrow for Ontario. But enough about me, lets talk about you. And me and you.

Christmas is a time of family, goodwill and alcohol enhanced celebration. However, lets not forget that this is most likely accompanied by increases in eating and spending too. If all goes well this combination should result in a barrel of fun, but (unfortunately) it will also result in an estimated 3 million tonnes of waste in the UK alone. I can’t even begin to image what this number might be in Canada or the USA. LA. NY. T.O.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and probably shouldn’t. With a bit of fore-thought we can all limit the impact we have on the environment this Christmas – and still have a bitchin party with plenty of naughtiness.

Here are some stats I found from a UK website. Please read this.

* The Royal Mail delivers around 150 million cards and packets each day during the pre-Christmas period. It is estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards (17 for every man, woman and child) could end up in bins across the UK.
* 7.5 million Christmas trees were bought in 2001. Some councils reported their Christmas tree recycling activities for early 2001 to EnCams. The total number of Christmas trees reported to be recycled was nearly 1.2 million.
* It is estimated that over Christmas as much as 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey.
* We could use an extra 750 million bottles and glass containers, and 500 million drinks cans. About 20% to 30% more glass and cans are collected each year over the Christmas period.

The amount of waste we produce and our main methods of disposal are currently not sustainable. The production, treatment and disposal of waste can all harm the environment. This is not just because of the problems with landfill, incineration or other disposal options – it is also because we use new resources to replace ones we have thrown out. It is estimated that for every tonne of waste produced in our homes, five tonnes has already been produced in manufacturing and 10 tonnes at the point where the raw material was extracted. About 600 million tonnes of raw resources are used in the UK per year, 570 million tonnes of which end up as waste losses through energy, water, solid wastes and other emissions.

As a result of our lifestyles, on average every household in the UK throws away 1.2 tonnes of waste every year. This amounts to a staggering 30 million tonnes in total.

In just a fortnight we each throw away from home, amongst other things, five glass bottles or jars, six cans, seven plastic bottles and three and a half kg of paper and card.

A massive 60% of our household waste could be recycled or composted, but most of it is still deposited in landfill sites. Nearly 23% of domestic waste was recycled and composted in England in 2004/05. We need to find ways to not only recycle more, but also to reduce and reuse our waste. We need to focus our efforts and change our habits and what better time than during the Christmas period; a new approach for a New Year!

I realize this posts sounds a bit preachy, but these numbers were draw dropping to me, and I can see even in my own life and family holidays that we can do better than we have. Non of this means a loss of fun, or surprise, it just means being aware of our footprint, our impact on the globe and our future generations. I certainly don’t need to give anyone tips on how to be more mindful this year, we all know this stuff already, we just need to begin a new level of awareness. Get creative. It really can be that simple. Be aware of your actions and ask good questions, like can I do this better? Can I produce less? Is this going to have a positive or negative effect? C’mon people, we all have good intentions I know, but like Ben says, deeds and intentions are as far apart as heaven and hell. Lets act this year, as good as we can at least. I hope you all have a delicious Holiday Season. There will be no posts from me until the New Year. Best Wishes. Rock ON.

  • elias

    yeah very good christmas, happy new year to you and everyone around.

  • Taylor Purcell

    Totally agree with the point that you’re trying to get across. There are a lot of people who still live in complete oblivion about the state of how we live. Sure you may sound “preachy” at times or be labeled as a conspiracy wing nut but the message is an important one that needs to reach all people on a wide scale. In any event merry Christmas and happy new year.

  • Isaac
  • Tracy

    Great message! Will get my act together on this NOW.
    Know that my non-climbing friends enjoy the back out of your blog, giving us things to talk about that may or may not be directly about climbing but interesting all the same.
    Enjoy the year end and thanks for sharing some great memories of 2008, it’s been fun!

  • john cocktosin

    And how many times have you flown on carbon spewing planes in the last year? Selective environmentalism at its best….

  • Suzanne

    Happy Christmas. All good points, now how about ceasing all chopping of trees, that too will help prevent global warming, all those chopped should be replaced by planting a new tree.

  • daisy duke
  • Neel

    Some more scary stats:
    “ForestEthics has calculated that the creation, delivery and disposal of the 100 billion pieces of junk mail sent annually in the U.S. create more than 51 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, contributing as much to global warming as nine million cars. And about 10 per cent of our own boreal forests is sacrificed to create what is basically garbage. To block junk mail, write a letter to Canada Post saying you don’t wish to receive it or visit http://reddotcampaign.ca .”

  • Sonnie

    Hi everyone, thanks so much for your holiday wishes and fine spirits, great to hear from you. It’s been a good holiday so far, very exciting with family and what-not, but mellow in most other ways.

    Also, thanks for sending along those interesting links and clips. I appreciate the community involvement and shows that we are all feeling like we can do a bit better than we are. I guess that’s what life is about, realizing our mistakes, increasing our awareness and doing the best we can to fix what’s not working.

    John in regards to your comment about flying, dude, you are so right. I feel sick to my stomach everytime I board a plane for some selfish no good reason. When I went to India last winter I couldn’t escape the guilt. What gives ME the right to fly half-way around the world, using up all those natural resources and polluting the air for others, just so I can see a land beyond, entertain myself for a few months, escape cold canada, and climb some silly little rocks?

    Why should I be so destructive and privaledged while others don’t even have the opportunity to wreak havoc? It makes me want to punch myself in the face repeatedly.

    Whatever the reason, it just didn’t seem justifyable, but there I was, standing in Hampi and drinking from a plastic water bottle that may never be recycled, I was being such a fucken hippy-crite. And still am. What gives me the right to attempt to remind the world (in this blog post) to be mindful at Christmas when I’m standing in line for yet another flight to Toronto? I dunno.

    I suppose if ‘THEY’ just stopped offering flights all together, I mean if the Government stepped in and said this is bad for the environment, (but they probably won’t because it’s good for business, the ever {increasing and decreasing} economy, because people can get things done faster and they make more money faster, but it’s not all about speed is it, Jack Johnson another plane boarding concert touring hippy says “slow down everyone where moving too fast”)

    …but if they did stop offering fligths to the masses, then we’d be all be forced to get creative, find a way to see India by taking a 100 passenger Sail Boat instead of the costly and time reducing areoplane. It makes me so confused about the laws of our world and our supposed instincts.

    I discussed this with Cedar Wright at great length in Kentucky this fall, as he too is a rolling stone and never stays home. He has been on more planes this year than Barack Obama, but he’s an optomist with a capitol ‘O’. Cedar feels deep down inside that the world is rapidly changing for the better, and soon we’ll have more creative ways to travel with more speed and less harmful results. Cleaner fuel more efficiency, I suppose this is what we are all hoping for. Some people only see the world consuming itself, a dark tunnel leading to blackness, while others like Cedar (and most of us reading this) inherently feel that we can reverse the damage, correct our mistakes and take our society to a higher level through intelegent actions and we shall find the light at the end of the tunnel to be brighter then ever before.

    So where I am going with all of this digital diarrhea? Again, I dunno.

    All I know is that we can do better, I CAN DO BETTER, much. I managed to wrap all of my gifts in reusable bags, all except for one. But I’m trying. I’m far from perfect, in fact I am probably far from average, but I am noticing at least my footprint (and I’m not proud of it) so I must do better. Like I said before, it starts with awareness and little by little we fix what we’re doing wrong. Hopefully, we can fix it all in time. I have my fingers crossed.

    Happy New Year to all, and best wishes. It’s going to be a sweet one.

  • Reggie

    Hi Sonnie,

    I love the message you’re getting across, but just one point I want to share.

    recycling is necessary, but overrated. most waste is produced upstream. I don’t know the numbers, but it’s probably something like every 1 pound of waste you throw away, 10 pounds was wasted in producing it. so if we didn’t buy water bottles or postcards in the first place, we’d save way more than by recycling. lots of people feel guilty for not recycling, but the real devil is consumption. (of course, without consumerism, we wouldn’t have a lot of things that make life better and longer, but that’s a concern for another conversation.)


  • Grant

    I agree with Reggie. Much of our waste is never seen or is very difficult to gauge. For something as simple as a plastic bag there is energy in manpower, lights and heating of the factory etc. With that logic people like Cedar have a very small footprint. Anyone that lives out of a car or from bag to bag is not a very big consumer. There footprint is large in the obvious catagories of plane travel and car travel, yet small in the buying of goods. Someone that lives in a 3000 sq ft home wether they recycle or not are going to use more energy than someone sitting by a campfire for heat. By default the more you buy the more energy is consumed to make those products. Its definetly a double edge sword. Do we want the new flat screen or for that matter a tv period or buy less and produce a smaller footprint. I guess thats what garage sales are for eh. This is obviously something that we could go on about for days and preach about whats right and whats wrong, but if we’re aware thats a start. Great job on the blog Sonnie and keep it up. Its great that a “climbing” blog can actually create conversation regarding things other that crimping and sending. Cheers Grant

  • Stray Cat

    Thumbs up to having less stuff and to all the people living mindfully. “There is no one right way for ANYTHING to live.” (Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn) Make it fine in 2009. Peace!

  • Eric Escobar
  • Dustin

    Happy New Year Sonnie! All the best in 2009!