simplify: seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas

simplify - seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas @poetryjoy.com

As I sit with the world at my fingertips, I marvel yet again at the wonder of internet shopping at a mere click. Christmas means I get to buy my favourite people gifts from the comfort of my own home. Yet the relative ease can lull me into a false sense of security and control. Simplicity of consumption can mean loss of the ability to simplify.

Truth is, we’re all in danger of getting sucked into advertising hooks and consumerism’s greedy clutches. It’s all too easy to buy more than we need and neglect to think about its effect on us and the world in general. Though it’s vital that we don’t ignore it.

I’m a bit of a “it might come in useful one day” type of hoarder, truth be told. I’m also a wannabe declutterer and minimalist, who rarely has energy enough for the task. A baby taking tiny baby steps toward living with and spending less.

I have an increasing desire to simplify, purchase wisely and live more mindfully. And an increasing awareness of the heedless way I might be contributing to the world’s carbon footprint and ecological decay. Hence my poetic lament below.

Lament for earth

If the sky cries out
in sympathy
with dry, dusty earth
and sheds hot, salty tears,
then wake me up,
I want to be aware.

Let me not miss
a thing of earth’s
dying gasps,
be it by flood
or fire,
because I want to
cry with her.

Let us all weep now
for our carelessness,
our lack of faithful
caretaking and love,
our inability to take
good care
of our Mother Earth.

We have been
bad custodians,
errant prodigals
and wasteful ones,
who now reap
the cost for our sad
faithlessness,
while we watch its fast
decay and death.
© joylenton

“Then God blessed them and gave them this directive:  ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.'” – Genesis 1:28 The Voice

simplify - lament for earth poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here’s a short list of potential gift idea resources (some of which I already use) and books to help us simplify, shop, gift and live more mindfully this Christmas and beyond. Though we need to be wary of letting too many “expert” books and resources discourage us in our seemingly small steps of progress toward our simplifying goals.

Ethical resources and gift ideas:

  1. 12 tips for a plastic free Christmas – Marine Conversation Society
  2. Home of Fair Trade products – Traidcraft Shop
  3. Alternative gifts and occasions at Yumbles
  4. Making it easier to be eco – The Wise House
  5. Living Naturally – The First Soapnut Apothecary in the world

Book suggestions:

  1. No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference – the #2minutesolution by Martin Dorey
  2. How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum
  3. Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle
  4. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson
  5. The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker

How have you been able to ethically simplify your Christmas shopping and preparations? I’d love to hear from you and pick up some useful tips! 🙂

simplify - weep now lament poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

16 thoughts on “simplify: seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas

  1. Such good thoughts here, Joy. I, too, want to declutter and be more minimalist, but sometimes lack the energy. It seems like clutter accumulates so fast. Right now there are 8 of us in our home and we all need to more aware of caring for the place where we live. Your lament is timely and I pray that God will enable us to minimize the damage we do to the environment. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear Joy! xoxo

    • I sympathise, Gayl. Although there are only two of us at home now we’re both battling health problems and the legacy of accumulating too much over the years to comfortably fit into our tiny house! Our progress has been much slower than we both would like it to be, but all the staggered moments and baby steps of sorting, clearing, discarding and tidying will make a difference over time. The same will be true for you, my friend. We rejoice with every bagful that leaves the house and each area that gets a little less cluttered. Seeing the effects of overload in our home certainly wakes us up to the damage we might be heedlessly inflicting on the environment. I’ll be praying for and supporting you as you do whatever you can whenever you can. Blessings, love and hugs to you too! xoxo 💜

  2. Dear Joy,
    Your reflections and poem about our state of commercialism hit me deep in the heart. I, too, long for simplicity and living as a minimalist but find it hard to get where I want and need to be. And I do grieve with you for what we have made of this sacred holy day. Thank you for raising this to the surface so to help me look deeper than the sparkling add. Jesus, you are worth so much more. May we truly exalt You!
    God bless you and may your Christmas be a gentle time of celebrating the gift of Christ. Blessings and love, Melissa

    • Dear Melissa, I think many of us want to change the way we have been living and spending, in the light of ethical global issues and awareness of injustice. But it can be challenging to begin with, can’t it? It feels like there’s a huge chasm to cross to get from where we are to where we need to be. And it will take patience, perseverance, faith and time. The best result we can hope to gain is to free us up to focus most on what matters most of all. That might vary from person to person, though I share your desire to make Jesus more central during Advent, Christmas and beyond. May we truly exalt Him in deed and in word! May God bless you with precious times of rest and stillness and joy and peace as you celebrate Jesus’ birth. And may guilt take a backseat as you resolve to offer yourself the same kind of grace and sweet encouragement you give so freely to others. Blessings and love to you too! xo 💜

  3. Dear Joy,
    Thank you for these very thoughtful ponderings! I want to take care of this planet we’ve been stewarded with, but it can feel like the task is just too overwhelming sometimes. I really like the way that you shared some practical tips beginning here in this consumer season of greed. The translation of this verse from The Voice brought it home in a deeper way with: “trustees of My estate.” That normal word of “steward” can be so loosely tossed down, but to view this world as our place to be trustees of our Father’s estate, brings it much closer home, doesn’t it? Oh, may I allow my spiritual living to impact my physical living also. Blessings, love, and hugs to you Dear Friend! xoxo

    • Dear Bettie, I had the first stanza of the poem come to me before I was properly awake, and I typed it out in my journal app. Then the rest flowed freely after breakfast. I soon realised I was meant to share these words today instead of my usual five-minute-friday offering! A lament style of poetry tends to arrive abruptly like that, with my hand trying to keep up with my brain. But it took a while before I knew quite how to shape this post into something useful and more than a rant. The practical tips were a holy nudge idea I was thankful for! And the verse I used really hit home to me too in The Voice version. I’m glad it spoke to you as well. A trustee is someone commissioned to have safe custody and trusted to take good care of the thing/s he has responsibility for. Definitely a thought to ponder in relation to our role in the world we live in. Amen to your prayer. May it be so, Lord! Blessings, love and hugs to you too, dear friend! xoxo 💜

  4. Your poem and the photos speak volumes, Joy. Much needed reminders. We all need to take our carelessness to heart more. I love how The Voice speaks of us as “trustees of My estate.” Love and hugs to you!

    • Trudy, I’m glad the poem and photos have succeeded in getting the message across, though I often quail when God gives me a potentially thorny or challenging topic! A lot of our carelessness towards the planet stems from a lack of awareness, until these things get pointed out to us, and also years of ingrained habits. There is food for thought and room for improvement for most of us. It definitely helps to view ourselves as “trustees” of God’s estate and try to take personal responsibility for our actions in that role. Love and hugs to you too! xo 💜

    • It’s a hard truth, isn’t it, Michael? But an important concept for us to get to grips with. Thanks for sharing this post with your readers. Bless you, Brother, you are such a kind encourager! 😊❤

  5. striving to simplify as well. I love the slow fashion concept. then of course, I see something sooo lovely! it takes a real dedicated effort but more of us are trying. that solidarity is a strength. Blessings!

    • Nancie, I love the slow fashion concept too, though the temptation is always there to add something irresistible to my already overcrowded wardrobe/closet! Effort is definitely required to keep to the values we hold dear. I’m grateful for your solidarity, dear sister. And a little bit envious of your obvious creative sewing skills, truth be told! Blessings. xo 😊💜

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