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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Staying True To Your Values Through The Holidays

Winter Greens


During the holidays, I generally eat too much.  I generally “allow” myself to stop and buy foods or stuff that I don’t normally buy.  I generally turn up the heat more than I need to and sometimes I drive that mile to the store instead of walking.


It’s easier to “make exceptions” when it’s cold and you’re busy and you’re stressed out trying to get things done.


But do you ever NOT regret it later?  After the holidays, do you ever NOT regret eating too much and gaining those few extra pounds, or feeling awful from having too many unusual foods in your body, or having blemished skin from too much of something or another?  After the holidays, do you ever NOT regret just a little bit spending all that money, and now having a big credit card debt to pay off as you enter the new year?  And do you ever NOT have a twinge of guilt after driving or turning up the heat?


Extreme cold and grey and wet gets us a little down at times, and makes us want to hibernate.  I challenge you to fight that need to hide from the elements, the seasons, the real life outside!  I challenge you to embrace the change in temperature, as it pushes our citrus trees to produce luscious fruits, our plums and peaches to sufficiently overwinter, our carrots and greens to sweeten in the cold earth.


And I challenge you to resist the urge to give up for a moment on your values as you pass by something that you really want to buy.  Just ask yourself if it’s really perfect, given the environmental, social, and economic impact on you, your family, and the world.  Is it?  Or should you find an alternative that works better for every stakeholder in that transaction?


Make your holiday season guilt-free, happy, and healthy for you, your family and friends, and the world around you.  You deserve it.  And we all deserve it.


If you’re looking for some challenges to keep you on top of your values this season, here are a few:


1.  Eat Local for Thanksgiving

Eat Local For Thanksgiving


2.  Dark Days Eat Local Challenge

It’s not nearly as hard as you think, once you get started.  Try it out!

Dark Days Challenge


3.  Buy Nothing New For the Holidays

If you’re going to give gifts this year, instead of buying brand new things:

  • Give used or antique;
  • Make, bake, or grow a gift; or
  • Give non-material gifts

The Buy Nothing New For The Holidays Challenge!


4.  Buy Nothing Day

If you can’t do it for a whole month, at least try it for a day! Crowded malls, buying frenzy – are you sure you want to go out there?  Stay home and make something or nurture yourself instead.

Buy Nothing Day

 

5.  Freeze Your Buns Challenge

Challenge yourself to keep the thermostat low this winter.

Freeze Yer Buns Challenge


I encourage you to take on at least one or two of these challenges.  We are taking on all 5!


Will You Do It?


Come on, give it a shot!  And please feel free to recommend other good challenges out there as well!


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11 comments to Staying True To Your Values Through The Holidays

  • We’re doing the Freeze Yer Buns challenge. I already purchased some “new” things a while back, but from now on out I’m trying to do handmade/hand altered/used for Christmas. Our parents don’t appreciate or use homemade/homebaked for the holidays, so right now I’m brainstorming what to do for them.

  • I grew all of the corn for my family in the city for our Thanksgiving. I keep the thermostat low, but the wife is ALWAYS cold. 2 challenges licked right there.

    That said, “Buy Nothing Day” will just hurt our economy more than the president taxing small businesses, which provides 60% of our jobs. We’ll really stick it to Wal-Mart by not supporting our mom and pop shops. That program doesn’t pass economics 101, let alone a logic check.

  • What a fun post. This year, our goal is to never turn on our heater all winter! Luckily we live in the South of France and this is not a dangerous idea.

    A couple of years ago, DH and I did the ‘nothing new for a year’ challenge. And it obviously counted for Christmas as well. It changed us a lot and we’re much less likely to buy anything new . . .whether or not it’s Christmas.

    We’re celebrating Christmas with our family in France so not buying a lot of presents will not be difficult–it’s just not as big of a deal around there.

    For Thanksgiving I’m visiting family in CA–not everything will be local, but the Turkey and everything I’m cooking is–including the apple pie made from backyard fruit!

    Anyway, I love a good challenge. I find it really makes me put extra thought and effort into a new way of doing things. By the time I’m done with the ‘challenge’ I’ve learned a whole new set of habits that I usually keep in the long term.

  • Simply seeing the title of this post this morning gave me a breath later when I was reaching for a diet coke and I was able to leave it on the shelf. It’s so funny the exceptions the holidays bring. We’ve turned our heater on a few times, which I have to admit has been pretty nice but we were fine without it. And the other day I came home with croutons from the bakery in plastic. I didn’t even see the plastic until I got them home. It’s not a big deal but I wouldn’t have bought them. I’m fairly grounded but it’s a challenge to not get caught up in the frenzy of it all. All of this to say thank you for your post. It helped me remember to breathe.

  • Fight hiding from the elements? When it’s 6? in January? What?!?

    My theory is that we should set the thermostat to a temperature relative to the temperature outside – so it’s higher in the fall and you turn it down as the weather cools so that you can wear all the wool sweaters you want to be warm outside and not sweat inside.

    No one’s buying my theory yet though. If only I lived alone… and had a bunch of wool sweaters.

  • K, I have found antique shopping to be great for my parents – picture frames, for example, or something useful for the kitchen perhaps? The other thing that I’m thinking about this year is a front porch painting – their steps are really slick, plus they need a new paint job (they have extra paint in the garage), so I’m going to mix the paint with a sandy medium to make the steps less slick. In case that sparks any ideas!

    Red Icculus, Thank you for your perspective. :) The idea behind Buy Nothing Day for me is not to put anyone out of business, but to remind ourselves that the holidays aren’t about buying things. I want to start my holiday season in a cozy, family- and values-oriented way rather than starting out the holidays in a buying rush. Aside from that, the rush on Black Friday is generally for the sales at the big department stores. By not giving in to the big sales, we can be more deliberate in our buying from local mom and pops.

    Simple in France, I feel the same way about challenges, and I’m very impressed that you bought nothing new for a year – I’m sure that changed your perspective! Very interesting that presents are not as big of a deal in France – I am envious!

    Katrina, I’m so glad to help. I wrote this for myself as well, of course, and having written it and put it out there has helped me stay true, too! :)

    Stephanie, I agree as well – I didn’t mean to not turn on the heat when it’s 6 degrees, just to not turn up the heat to 75 or 80 degrees when it’s 6 degrees outside! LOL… must watch my phrasing. Anyway, I agree with your theory!

  • Your ideas are very good and I will use a few of them. I live in southern texas so i’m lucky because i don’t have to worry about turning up my heat. The gift ideas are very nice ways of giving and making something for someone from your heart and hands and people really appreciate these kind of gifts. I have to admit though for my mother, i get her a gift card to her grocery store in the state where she lives and this helps her a lot. She can buy her groceries and it helps pay for her medicines at the pharmacy. And I bake all of the cookies and candy for my friends and neighbors in which i’ve done for so many years. I love giving and spending the hours baking to make others happy. This is what Christmas means to me.

  • Organic Plant Fertilizer

    People generally want to have fun while holidaying but thinking about locals and environment and earning there goodwill by promoting eco tourism will surely make holidays more satisfying.

  • Nee

    We are doing the freeze your buns this winter.

  • Enjoyed reading your post! And yes, I’m taking on your challenges…especially about the Buy Nothing part! It’s so easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy during the holidays so it’s really a challenge NOT to buy something that you want.

    This post is definitely worth spreading — I’m sharing it with my friends! Thanks!

  • Sehr toller Blogpost. Unser Sommerurlaub wird 2011 auch sehr schön werden. Ich reise mit meinen Freunden dieses Jahr nach Mallorca. Mein bester Urlaub war bis jetzt im Jahr 2003 in Liberia, dieser war wirklich unglaublich. Urlaubsreife Grüße

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