White Savior Complex

Hello again!
It’s been a little while. (I feel like I have been saying this at the beginning of every blog post lately lol).

A couple of things before I dive into today’s topic!

  1. I am gonna start a “book club” on here! Our first book is “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad. This book is a guide for beginners on their antiracism journey. It is a 28 day reflective work that pushes you to confront the ways that white supremacy has impacted and uplifted your life (if you are white, white passing, or lighter skinned biracial, multiracial, BIPOC). I am starting my reading journey here and I invite you all to do it along with me. At the end of the 28 days, I will post about my thoughts and feelings, and invite you all to comment on the post and engage in a dialog with me. I am super excited for us to do this together!
  2. I know my posts haven’t been very fun lately. But the topics I am writing about are important and they are important to talk about. I find more fulfillment talking about this and doing the work than I do sharing weird pictures that I have taken recently. (but the main reason is that I am not doing anything so I have no pictures lol)

Okay let’s get down the topic at hand: the white savior complex.

I saw a post on instagram today that reminded me of how important this issue is to talk about. So bringing it up today to reengage it in our conversations.

What is the white savior complex?

It is a trope and a mindset in which a white person provides help to nonwhite people in a self serving manner.

Let’s look at it in action. One of the most famous examples of the white savior complex is: the White Man’s Burden; the mindset of the colonial western powers as they took control of other countries around the world.

At the end of the 19th century, Rudyard Kippling wrote the poem “The White Man’s Burden” in regards the the war between the United States and the Philippines, arguing that the United States should control the Filipino people.

I read the text in high school, but here it is for those who haven’t read it and those, like me, who need a refresher:

(Trigger warning: White people being White people in the 1800s and being super racist)

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    Send forth the best ye breed—
Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness
    On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
    And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
    An hundred times made plain.
To seek another’s profit,
    And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
    And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
    The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
    Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper—
    The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
    The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
    And mark them with your dead!

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
    The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
    (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
    Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
    To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
    By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
    Shall weigh your Gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
    Have done with childish days—
The lightly proffered laurel,
    The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
    Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
    The judgment of your peers!

Curtesy of Wikipedia

Gross poem, huh?

The mindset in the colonial era was that Europeans were doing the rest of the world, the “savages”, a favor by coming in and taking control of their “poor, backwards nations”. They were supposed to push through their own plight for the betterment of the “savages”. The White Man’s Burden was to bring greatness and culture to the rest of the world.

In reality, the White Man’s Burden was an intense public expression of the white savior complex. The colonizers stripped everything of areas they took hold of, and left power vacuums in their place after they abruptly left. There is honestly WAY too much I could get into about colonization, however, I will leave you read about that on your own.

So, you’re probably thinking that the white savior complex ended with colonialism. No. And another surprise, colonialism is alive and well. It has simply transformed to fit a new set of circumstances. Colonialism still dictates every relationship between the Global North and the Global South. It dictates mindsets, such as the white savior complex.

The white savior complex is seen in movies, books, tv shows where the white main character comes to the self serving rescue of all of the BIPOC characters in the show. Examples of this: Avatar (the blue people one), the Blind Side (but it was so heartwarming, right?? no), the Help, and others. I encourage you to rewatch these movies now understanding this new lens. You’ll be surprised with what you find.

But the white savior complex goes beyond the media, where it is really saturated. The white savior complex is most vivid in the missionary culture of Christianity in the United States.

This is a controversial take solely because it criticizes the work of Christians. If you been triggered or have an abrupt reaction to this or instantly go to defend yourself, I invite you to decenter yourself and listen. I also invite you to understand that this is your white fragility rearing its ugly head.

(For reference: white fragility is the discomfort and defensiveness of a white person when topics of racial inequality and injustice are discussed. All white people have it, it is a symptom of white supremacy. I have it, you have it, your neighbor has it. Don’t try to think you are above it. Accepting these things is crucial to your antiracism work. )

Anyways: why are missionaries modern day colonizers?

Rachel Card writes:

“Missionary work has become so normalized within our society that the more sinister aspects of its fundamentals have gone, for the most part, unchallenged, despite the less than subtextual nature of their racism. Missionaries show blatant disrespect toward the cultures they have inserted themselves into by framing Christianity as a touchstone of civilization, a narrative that was historically used to justify the colonization of America itself.”

https://www.ntdaily.com/missionary-work-is-just-another-name-for-colonization/

CHRISTIANITY WAS NOT IN THE AMERICAS UNTIL IT WAS ENFORCED ON INDIGENOUS GROUPS THROUGH COLONIZATION.

Just had to get that out there, phew. Missionaries are simply a new form of colonialism. It enforces the ideal that White people are superior and know what is best for the community, that their language and religion must be enforced. Colonization erases cultures.

A question that I think is important for missionaries to reflect on is : would you still go if you could not tell people about it? Would you do the same project in the US or is it all about traveling to see kids who have been trained to view you as the hero?

Your gut reaction will be “yes of course I would go” and “I would do this work anywhere!!” but reflect on it as well as the rest I have to say.

The white savior complex is dangerous; missionaries are dangerous.

They spread the word of their own religion to areas that did not have it prior to the beginning of colonization, continuing that cycle. It is disguised as this benevolent, humanitarian effort to solves the problems of Black people, Indigenous People, and People of Color. However, the same people who have colonized, wrecked havoc, exploited, enslaved, and committed genocide are the ones who are now going back to these areas and are saying they are here to take over once again. Like I mentioned before, colonialism has never ended, it has simply changed forms to adapt with the times.

It is never about true justice and solving inequalities. It is about maintaining the status quo. Making sure that these people will always rely on you. Making sure that white people will always be above others. Making sure you have a feel good story to tell on Sunday or the ability to post a photo with a Black child and be called a hero.

Having this big emotional experience helps to validate your privilege. You go and work down there for 1 week, and never think about it again. You are not continuously doing the work. You are not working with the community. Rather, you are imposing on the community. You are telling the community what to want. It is not for them. It is for you.

Missionaries often only care about intention rather than impact. Good intentions can still cause a lot of harm. Missionaries are self centers, meaning that they do not rely on BIPOC and community experts, instead they rely on White people to lead them. Additionally, and one of my largest issues with missionaries, they only focus on the symptoms of the problem. There is little effort to actually, and properly I might add, address the root cause of the issues. Their bandaid won’t fix in the long run. It will, instead like I mentioned, continue to maintain the status quo.

I know this piece won’t be one of your favorites. But the White Savior Complex is such an essential part of White Supremacy that is left out of conversations. We need to talk about the harm that it caused by centering ourselves in issues that are not about us and valuing feel good experiences over true impact.

I am against the missionary system, but I am not against helping people.

I want that to be made explicitly clear.

However, there are ways that similar work can be accomplished without centering yourself, the colonist narrative and harming the people you are supposed to be helping.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on this and invite you to reflect and engage in this conversation with me.

Additionally, if you have another topic you would like me to break down and discuss, let me know! I would love to write about stuff other people are also interested in.

Thank you for giving me this space.

Remember to read and engage with our book this month! We’ll chat about it again in 28 days!

Black History Month: Environmental Racism in Chicago and Hazel M Johnson

It’s been a minute since I have even looked at my blog. I started school shortly after the last post and have been incredibly busy with school work, extra curriculars, and job hunting.

But this month is Black History Month and, while it is almost over, I knew that if I wrote anything this month, it would have to be surrounding this topic.

Before I dive into my main topic, I just want to point out a couple of quick things.

In Utah, parents were able to chose to opt out their children from the Black History Month curriculum. Since the story has now gone viral, the Utah school districts have rescinded that option. But this instance brings to light an incredible point. Racism begins at home. What you say behind closed doors, what you whisper, what you chose to ignore/opt out of, is all noticed and is passed on to your children.

Racism begins and spreads at home.

Anyways, let’s begin.

I wanted to spend this blog post talking about an issue that hits close to home: environmental racism in the city of Chicago. For the many of you who are not Chicago natives/residents, after reading this, do a quick google search of “environment racism *your area*” and see what pops up. I’m sure it will be incredibly interesting and eye opening.

The environmental racism in Chicago is pretty well known. Chicago is the third most segregated city in the country as of 2018 according to the Census Bureau. However, most Chicagoans don’t need a formal study to know that. We see it every day. The Northside of the city, where all of the money and resources are, is largely white and affluent. The Southside, where none of the money and resources are, is largely Black and disenfranchised. The Eastside, where the lake is, is, again, very affluent. The Westside is not.

So what even is environmental racism?

First let’s define the environment.

Environmental justice advocates define the environment as anywhere we work, live, and play. Instead of separating ourselves from nature, this definition invites it in. It makes it apart of our community. Because, in this definition, the environment is now central to us, it makes it easier to see how people are affected by it. This is by far my personal favorite definition of the environment.

So, now what is environmental racism?

Environmental racism is the disproportionate effect of environmental hazards on people of color.

(From GreenAction:) Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries.

Environmental justice, then, is the response to these inequities. There are 17 principles of environmental justice and I invite you to look at them.

How does this all play out in Chicago?

Very poorly.

In January of 2020, the city of Chicago did an air quality study. They found that all over the county, the air quality was not great, but the air quality in the South and West sides of the city was life threatening.

Here is a map of their findings.

Staggering to actually have it visualized, huh?

This map is not an unfamiliar one. Throughout the years, there have been many maps that look the same on a variety of topics. The story always ends up being the same. The Black and Latinx populations living in the South and West sides of the city of Chicago face greater health risks than White populations in other areas of the city.

Environmental injustice has been occurring in Chicago for an extremely long time.

There was one woman who recognized it before most others.

Hazel M. Johnson.

When her husband passed away, young and suddenly, from cancer, Johnson began questioning why there were so many in her area, and other public housing areas in Chicago, experiencing inordinate rates of cancer.

Johnson and her husband lived in Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project on the far south side of Chicago. Its residents are 97% Black.

After researching, Johnson discovered that the area had 50 landfills, hundreds of hazardous waste sites, and underground storage tanks that were leaking. She called the community “the toxic doughnut” as it was completely surrounded by pollution and hazardous materials.

In 1979, Johnson established People for Community Recovery in Chicago, which aimed to help the community understand hazardous waste, demand cleaner environments, test for lead, and strengthen their own personal connection to the environment. Johnson also helped to create the 17 principles of environmental justice, which I linked earlier.

Because Johnson’s background was not science based, the media and politicians often painted her as the “angry Black woman” trope, as they thought she was too uneducated to know what was going on in her own community. Despite all attempts to silence Johnson, she pushed onwards, continuing to organize her community members and advocate for environmental justice.

Hazel’s influence in Chicago, and in the environmental justice fields, is still felt today. However, as seen from that map at the beginning of this post, the South side of Chicago still faces incredibly high rates of pollution. Johnson’s organization People for Community Recovery in Chicago, now led by her daughter, continues to fight for the rights and protections of minority and low income communities from environmental hazards.

Hazel is the mother environmental justice. Throughout her life, she dedicated all of her energy and efforts to the people of Chicago. She paved the way for what environmental justice was able to evolve into. Johnson continues to have such an incredible influence on a community so close to my heart.

Tips & Tricks: Sustainable Gifts

Hello! It’s been a minute, huh?

I am finally done with the first semester of my junior year and am very much looking forward to taking a well deserved break. After being apart from family over thanksgiving, I was able to visit my mom and my brother for Christmas. The cat came with as she is moving back in with them now that my mom has moved. She was absolutely fantastic on the plane, which, let’s be honest, was a huge surprise.

Waffles in cat jail on the plane

It’s taken her a little bit to adjust to a new home, and she’s not fully there yet, but she’s doing pretty well. She loves the California sun and warm weather much more than the cloudy Chicago winter we left.

While staying inside, I have been taking time to wrap and decorate my eco-friendly gifts for my friends and family. I love wrapping presents and wanted to find a way to still make them look cute but be sustainable. Through listening to others in the sustainable community, along with my own ideas, I was able to do just that. So, I wanted to share the fun way I was able to make my gifts this year sustainable and cute.

Materials needed:

  • Citrus fruits of your choice
    • I ended up using two oranges as that gave me the perfect number of slices for all of my gifts. If you have a lot of gifts, use more, if not that much, use less.
    • You can use lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, any citrus you like
  • Recyclable brown paper or newspaper
  • Twine
  • Holly or Winterberries
    • If you use winterberries: keep them away from children and pets as they are toxic, but they look great!

(You can always do it differently by using scarfs or other ideas, but this is how I did it)

To dry the oranges:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet or two (depending on your needs) with either parchment paper, a silicon baking sheet (which is the sustainable option!) or aluminum foil
  • Cut the fruit of choice into thin slices discarding any seeds
  • Put the slices on the baking sheet about a half inch apart
  • Back at 200 degrees, flipping every 30 minutes, for about 2 to 3 hours
    • Because they will be of varying sizes, take out the slices as they dry
  • (Optional: Sprinkle the oranges with sugar)

Cut the Winterberry or Holly into sizes of your choosing, then get ready to wrap.

Wrap your gifts in brown recycled paper or old newspaper and wrap with twine to give it some extra flare. Then decorate as you feel with the oranges and winterberry/holly.

They turn out really cute! And it is all sustainable! As they sit under the tree, I have received great feedback. People love how they look, and it’s so incredibly easy.

So! Now that you know how to wrap the gifts, what do you put in them?

I know, I know. Christmas is two days away and this is a little late, but everyone is always searching for last minute gift ideas. So here are some that I got for my family.

  • Wine
    • This is a great gift as you can find some great wine from sustainable vineyards. When purchasing, look to see if the vineyard is SIP certified.
    • You can also book a wine tasting at a local vineyard, which a great, low waste experience gift! However, in our current covid era, leaving the house isn’t advisable. So, instead you could buy different wines from the same or different vineyard and do a home wine tasting. Makes the experience come to the home and is a fun change from the usual routine. You can even make tasting sheets to rank the different wines you try!
  • Photos
    • Photos are a great sentimental low waste gift too, especially if you can get them printed on recycled paper.
    • I was able to make a little photo book for my family for the holidays (they already opened it, don’t worry) and they love it.
    • Photos are something that are not that expensive, can be a great sustainable option, have a lot of sentimental value, and are a great last minute gift idea
  • Experience gifts
    • I have talked about this before, and just mentioned it when I talk about wine tastings, but experience gifts are truly one of the most sustainable gifts you can give. They are low waste and just plain fun.
    • Gift cards to restaurants or the movies support local businesses in your area through covid and are a great sustainable idea
    • Tickets to a play or an amusement park which can be used once things open back up are great ideas
    • You can also give sustainable gear for people that spend time outside, like backpacks or sustainable cork yoga mats
  • Second Hand gifts
    • Regifting or gifting second hand items is something that we should normalize. Walk into any thrift or consignment store, or even scroll down eBay and you can find incredible stuff. Things do not always need to be new. Normalize getting things refurbished and second hand. Not only is it more sustainable, but it is often cheaper!
  • Buy a tree or carbon offsets!
    • I, again, have talked about this before, but carbon offsets are a great gift, and can easily be a last minute gift as it is done all online and you print or email the certificate. They supports companies and projects that are working to reduce carbon emissions. I bought one for my mom last Christmas, in fact, and funded the planting of trees, clean water initiatives, and several other projects
    • Gift a Tree! You can also plant a tree (or trees) in dedication to someone for Christmas. This is a great gift and that person is now tied to a sustainable project. This also a great last minute gift idea that is done all online! Treedom Trees is a great company that allows you to plant or dedicate trees. You get to pick your kind of tree, a farmer will plant it and photograph it, and you can follow its journey as it grows and follow the larger project it is apart of.
  • If you must shop, shop small, shop business of color.
    • It is so important to support small businesses and businesses owned by people of color every holiday season, but this holiday season especially. They typically do not operate on the same large scale basis that other corporations do, so it is a sustainable way to shop in its own right. Make sure your favorite business survive this pandemic. Don’t know what to get, buy a gift card. Everything helps.

This is just a short list of great last minute ideas and ideas for the future for the people you care about most in your lives.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and it is spent with people you love, either in person or virtually.

Stay safe, stay home, stay wearing your mask. We’re not through this yet.

Happy Holidays

Nisolo Shoes: a Little Kinder to the Planet

It’s December! The final stretch of the crazy year of 2020, though I am not holding out hope for the beginning of 2021…

We’re now officially in the holiday season. I have a fake palm in my living room that is covered in lights. I decided that instead of buying a small fake tree, that I would just turn my palm into a tropical Christmas tree. I have small little ornaments and even a tiny tree skirt. Its pretty cute if I do say so, and it is a little better for the environment. I used things I already had, only buying when it was necessary.

Speaking of the holiday season, Thanksgiving looked a little different this year. Like I said, I spent this year away from my immediate family like a lot of people did. But I did get to spend it with my little covid bubble which helped make a sour situation very sweet.

We spent the afternoon chatting, drinking, eating, and enjoying each others company. I hadn’t been around anyone besides my cat for about a week and a half. It was fantastic to have conversations that were not answered with a meow or a tail flap. I also got to eat the most fantastic crab cakes.

Another highlight of the day was debuting my fantastic new Nisolo shoes.

Aren’t they stunning??

It is Emma D’Orsay Oxford in Brandy. I adore the side slits and nodes to French Fashion. While I would traditionally classify these as a dress shoe, back in my I-know-nothing-about-fashion-days (which I am just now growing out of), these are so incredibly versatile. Here I am wearing them with jeans, but I just as soon wear them with my plaid slacks, a skirt, or even a pair of shorts.

These shoes are beautifully made and incredibly high quality. They are a little tight fitting at first, but the shoe soon forms to your foot.

Photo Curtsey of Nisolo

When picking products to feature I try only to pick brands that produce sustainable products but do so in an ethical way.

Thats why I like Nisolo. Not only do they produce REALLY cute shoes, but they also pay their employees a living wage.

Nisolo publishes detailed information on everything they do: their factories, their wages, and their climate and social impact.

Nisolo has created 117 new sustainable jobs and their wages are 33% above fair trade wages. All of their employees are over the age of 18 and they have invest $3.5 million back into the Peruvian economy. Nisolo is also B-corporation certified. “B Corp certification is similar to fair trade, but determines environmental and social impact beyond product attributes or production processes. Rather, the assessment takes a deep look into a company’s leadership, governance, suppliers, employees, communities, etc. in order to determine (and ultimately score) the social and environmental impact an organization has on all of its stakeholders.”

Nisolo’s main factory is in Peru but they also partner with independent artisans. They make it a goal to empower women and pay them fair wages as well. They help their employees establish bank accounts and savings, and employees can also have a salary advance for big expenses to save themselves from the loan sharks.

Currently, the lowest wage in their Peruvian factory is $280 a month. That is for entry level positions. While it is low in consideration of our wages, it is actually much higher than the average wage in Peru for entry level positions.

I love the transparency in this company. Yes, there are improvements to be made. There are improvements everywhere, but the fact that they allow you to see the inner operations of their supply chain and show were they have made mistakes in the past is promising.

Nisolo also combats climate change by actively protecting trees from deforestation in the Amazon Basin.

These shoes are terrific. They do good for people, for the planet, and as a self confidence booster.

(Shoes received in partnership with brightly.eco scouts program)

Staying home… And other updates

I haven’t provided an update on here in a while, so I thought I would share what I have been up to. It has been spent mainly within the walls of my apartment, with girls night after girls night with my cat. However, every once in a while, I get to step outside, breath the fresh air, and see some friendly faces. I appreciate everyone in my little covid bubble that I get to see so very very much. They are the ones who have made this time enjoyable.

Pictures are better than words, so here’s a collection of them from the past month or so.

Halloween! This was a very low-key halloween. He was an astronaut and I was an alien.
Pumpkin carvings!
Even though we are 21, we have bought more sparkling grape juice than alcohol. Very on brand.
Celebrating the election and a 70 degree day in November.
They are absolutely in love with one another and I often feel like a third wheel.
One of the big joys of covid is that I get to hang out with this cute baby from time to time. She absolutely adores her Uncle Armin (However, I feel like that may be in part do the volume of snacks he always has at the ready.) But like have you seen anything cuter?
Neda actually let me hold her! This is a huge step for us. She used to only judgey stare at me from across the room, but now she actually knows who I am? One cool baby.
She is a city cat.
Chonk
I was able to do my first #sponsored post on instagram for Nisolo shoes! It was super cool and I should probably post about it on here, but y’know. Also I spent thanksgiving with Armin’s family and this is their front yard.
I got this GIANT, ankle length blanket sweatshirt dress for my birthday and now that it’s getting colder, I have been LIVING in it.
I had the lovely opportunity to see a dear friend of mine this weekend. We spent it zooming with our other friends and playing online games and it was a blast.

Going into the holiday season with covid is hard. It is super important to focus on the good moments and to pick out moments when you felt happy and good about yourself, even if that moment was as small as buying sparking grape juice at Marianos.

This week I am heading back to classes after being off for Thanksgiving and getting ready for finals. I know while I am stressed it is going to be essential that I remind myself of all the good times.

For everyone in school, kick butt this finals season, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Tips & Tricks: A Sustainable Holiday

Listen as you read

The holiday season. It is finally upon us… but it looks a little different this year. Many of us, myself included, are separated from our families. I, for instance, am in Chicago while my family is in much warmer parts of the country. This holiday season feels different than others. I think I’ve been looking forward to it much more than I usually do too.

The time from Thanksgiving to New Years is always filled with so much hope and love. I think we all need a little bit more of that this year. I have even broke my family tradition of only listening to Christmas music post Thanksgiving. I watched Dash & Lily today on Netflix, which omg cheesy but cute teenage romance (also the Jonas Brothers are in it?? and I love Joe so…) and am writing this while listening to Christmas music and sitting next to a candle (kind of like a fireplace right?) while it is completely dark at 5 pm.

Starting to feel like the holidays.

I think I may even try to decorate my small little house this week.

I, like so many others, are not with my family this holiday to protect them and myself and others from the horrors of Coronavirus. This holiday season should really be spent looking out for others and being selfless.

Being selfless also includes putting the planet’s interests above your own. (You knew this was coming right? I gotta input my sustainable knowledge at some point…) I have complied a little list about ways that you can be sustainable this year! Whether it be through Christmas cards, gift wrap, decorations, or holiday meals.

The holiday season is a time to give back to others, a time to show them how much the mean to you, a time to be kind to strangers. Be kind to the planet too.

(As per usual, I am not being paid for recommending any of these companies, products, or ideas. I am sharing them of my own volition and belief in a commitment to a sustainable future)

Sustainable Christmas Cards:

To start off this list, I thought I would share a really cool shop that I was recently introduced to: Paper Culture.

This organization is really cool. For every purchase you make, they plant a tree.

Curtesy of Paper Culture

They’ve planted over 1 MILLION trees. Insane. They have a done of cute designs for the holiday season and beyond. This a great alternative to other Christmas card companies as it actively works to mitigate climate change.

Reduce Food Waste

Food waste is such a large problem in the developed world. And it just sky rockets around holidays. People always make more than what they will eat and often times just toss it, instead of saving it as left overs or making less food.

To make sure you don’t just end up throwing away your left overs, freeze them! They will keep a lot longer and there’s a good chance you’ll come back to it. You can also make sure you eat what you have before getting new food or ordering in. Use what you have before you get more. You can also find new recipes to repurpose your left overs.

Compost the stuff you can’t eat! Composting is such a great way to reduce food waste and give back to the Earth. I got my mom a composter for the holidays last year, and while it wasn’t quite what we needed, she ended up composting in her garden bed. You don’t need your own compost box or garden though. You can store your food scraps in the freezer, and when you are ready to get rid of them, find a local compost collection site near you!

Eat Less Meat

I think we can all agree that Turkey definitely does not live up to the hype. So why eat it?

This year, try eating less meat. Make more vegetable dishes and sides. Eating less meat is such a huge thing that you can do for the environment and to reduce climate change on an individual level.

Travel Better or Not at All

This year might be easier than others to not travel across the country with Corona and all, but emissions from planes and cars around the holidays are so detrimental to the planet.

You really shouldn’t be traveling this year ( I mean Illinois just went under another statewide stay at home order), but if you must, try keeping these ideas in mind.

Travel less often. Instead of driving or fly across country for Christmas and Thanksgiving, pick one. Or stay home every other year. This would help a lot with carbon emissions.

Take a bus or a train instead of flying. This is much less convenient, but convenient rarely means good for the planet.

You can also buy carbon offsets. This supports companies and projects that are working to reduce carbon emissions. I bought one for my mom last Christmas in fact. I funded the planting of trees, clean water initiatives, and several other projects.

Stop the Black Friday Frenzy

Black Friday is a global nightmare. We buy stuff that destroys the planet just because it’s cheap. This year, try to avoid the pull of consumer culture. Buy from sustainable brands if you must, or thrift, or make your own gifts!

You could also chose to give experience gifts. These gifts are very cool and are a great gift for a year when we didn’t get to do anything. You can buy a voucher to many places that the recipient gets to redeem when it is safe to do so. You aren’t contributing to consumer culture and are giving a fun and personal gift. Experience gifts can be anything from wine tastings, to movie tickets, to a coupon for a dinner with you!

Sustainable Gift Wrap? Yes Please!

Wrapping is known to be horrific for the planet. So, what can we do?

Repurpose old newspapers or paper shopping bags. Use plain, brown, recyclable paper instead of the glossy stuff that can’t be recycled. Decorate with twine and pine and berries. Be natural this year. Sustainability is in.

Natural Decorations

In addition to natural wrappings, try natural decorations. If you need to buy new decorations, and can’t reuse what you have from previous years (which is always the best), try being more natural.

Get a real tree, something that can be composted and returned to the earth, instead of a fake tree made from petroleum. If you must have a fake tree, make sure it is one you can use forever.

Reducing waste is incredibly important. If you use natural decorations, like real garland or a wooden reindeer, or you make your own, try to find things that can be reused, if it can’t be composted. This is will not only reduce your holiday costs, but reduce your footprint this holiday season as well.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope it will push you in the right direction.

Enjoy this holiday, even if you aren’t with your loved ones. Make do with what you have. Find the joy in this situation. Light your candles, dance around to whatever music you like the most, and eat as many cookies as it takes.

I, for one, am going to go spin around to Step into Christmas by my love Sir Elton John.

Happy Holidays from me and mine to you and yours, wherever you all may be this year.