Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Shopping Carbon Footprints in a Time of Climate Change

Traditionally today, December 15, has been the last day to get packages and cards in the mail so that they would arrive in time for Christmas.  I wonder if that's still true.

Do you think of your carbon footprint when you order gifts to come to you, when you send gifts to far-flung friends and relatives?  I used to order presents from craftswomen in developing nations.

Now I wonder how much my buying of these presents contributed to the warming of the planet.  I think about those islands that will be the first to go under water.

A few years ago, we ordered Christmas treats by mail, and the following poem came to me.  It's part of my forthcoming chapbook, and I thought it had images that could make good cover art.  Ultimately, those pictures didn't make the cut, but they continue to intrigue me.

Sustainable Habitat

Since she has stuck to her diet for several days, she rewards
herself with extra cashews
for her meal of yogurt and raspberries.
She prepares a new pot
of shade-grown, fair trade coffee.
She thinks about the miles travelled
to bring her breakfast to her.

She sorts through a pile of manuscripts,
children’s stories, one of the few types of books
her publishing company will still print on paper.
She notices how many of them
are based on stories from vanished
cultures. She makes notes about illustrators
and thinks of her own paints
now gathering dust.

Later, she orders Christmas presents
for the children: plush
toys that turn rapacious predators
into cuddly comfort. Her purchase
supports a fund to sustain habitat.

She orders a holiday treat for herself:
a sparkly jewelry set crafted
by a woman several continents
away. It will perfectly complement
her holiday outfit that was constructed
in a factory on an island that will sink
under the rising seas by the end of the century.

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