December is here and I can’t believe 2016 is almost over. It’s been a kind of disappointing year personally and a pretty horrible one worldwide. I love the holiday season but I feel, and I think many others would agree that this year more than ever we need to be conscientious about our celebrations and our impact on the world. Here are a few things that I want to do this month with the goal of making myself and the world around me a better place.
A few years ago my family started deliberately buying fewer gifts for each other and it’s been wonderful for all of us. It hasn’t diminished our enjoyment of the holidays at all and in fact has made us less stressed and more appreciative. Buying less takes us away from the consumerism of a holiday like Christmas, helps us focus on each other, reduces waste and encourages us to not spend money we don’t have.
Buy Ethically and Support Small Business
Buying ethically is something that has become increasingly important to me and I believe should be important to everyone.In the past I’ve often used the excuse “well how do I know which companies are ethical” but I feel strongly that, especially with the internet that we can do the research to find good companies. We know that when we buy fast fashion, for instance or need the latest technology that someone somewhere is being paid less than they should or even being kept in modern slavery. As consumers we have power and we need to use it. Spending more on individual products and buying less overall are important steps to take as well as shopping at second hand stores, taking care of our clothes and other belongings and recycling as much as possible. Which leads me to my next goal…
Reducing waste is important all year round but with holiday baking and gift wrapping coming up it’s important to not get slack. I found the following article had some great tips. 5 Simple Tips To Help You Start Living Waste Free Right Now
Give Time or Money to Charity
The holidays are an important time to give back but we have to be careful that we don’t throw our money at charities that do more harm than good or misappropriate funds. I started giving to Amnesty International Canada several years ago because I read several reviews that said they used their money well and were trustworthy and I believe in the work they do. Volunteering can also be beneficial but again we need to research reputable volunteer organizations in our areas and make responsible choices. For instance, the Vancouver Sun had THIS piece a few days ago about the importance of giving money to food banks instead of canned goods.
Take Time For Yourself
Taking care of yourself is vital to affecting change. I know this is something that can rub some people the wrong way, after all how is caring for yourself anything but selfish? Ultimately, though, the idea is that we can not be effective when we have not taken care of ourselves and perhaps more importantly that, especially for marginalized people, valuing yourself in a world that so often doesn’t is a radical act. Often when we talk about self care we think of it in terms of consumerism (buy this relaxing candle! go to the spa!) which are activities that are great if affordable but not the central goal of self care. Rather it is about setting boundaries, saying no to things we can’t handle or accept and cutting out or reducing time with toxic people. On the lighter side, taking time for yourself with a cup of tea or coffee, talking to a friend, disconnecting from social media, going for a walk, or making a homemade face mask or body scrub are some ways to take care of yourself this holiday season.
Speak Out About Issues
Even though self care is important it is also important for us, especially us white folks to speak up. I’ve often gotten angry or just left conversations when I felt that I couldn’t make progress with a racist person but now more than ever and especially at times when we will all be surrounded by people we need to call out racism (and, of course, all discrimination) when confronted with it. We need to stand up for what’s right regardless of how it makes us feel because in the end our discomfort is minuscule and irrelevant to what others are going through. Here are three articles that I found useful and there are many more out there.
Talking Racism with a Racist Relative in 4 Easy (Um NO) Important Steps
How to talk to other white people about race (and why it’s necessary)
Write Letters or Cards or Make Something
This year I’ve made matching scarves for my boyfriend and I, bought some beautiful handmade cards to give out this Christmas. Taking time to let the people in our lives know they are loved and supported is so important, whether they are partners, friends, co-workers or family. Making something can also be a valuable part of self care and writing something by hand is a nice break from typing.
Happy December everyone!