Tag Archives: eco

Have a greener Christmas

For the next couple of weeks, this blog is going to be all about having a greener Christmas, Yule, or whatever else you celebrate. I’m going to mostly say ‘Christmas’ because I think more people will find it if I do. Also, Christmas is the festival especially tied in to commercialmass, and it’s the specifically Christmas derived traditions that I am going to be challenging. So, if you’re having an eco-friendly Yule already, or a sustainable solstice, you probably don’t need what I’m wafting about. However, I’m asking for shares, tweets, reblogs and so forth on this content if you can spare me a moment over the coming weeks. (Not this one, this one doesn’t really have much in it…)

Christmas is a terrible time for waste, consumerism, debt and perpetrating the idea that stuff is what we need to be happy. As a species and as a planet, we can’t afford this kind of attitude.

Eco-Pagan Mythmaking

Cultures are underpinned and shaped by the stories they tell. Not just the big obvious myths, but the day to day stories about how everything works. Our current cultural stories include capitalism, austerity, growth, consumerism, and dominion over the natural world. For Pagans, this life destroying, using story-set that leads to unsustainable living just isn’t tolerable. We need new stories.

Writing about perfect worlds is really awkward. It’s so easy to sound preachy, or ridiculous, and that which is set up as Utopian, in fiction and in real life alike, tends to go horribly wrong. Stories for a future world have to balance the better ideas with the emotional realism that lets us accept that this is believable. It’s not an easy balance to strike.

I recently read Anna McKerrow’s ‘Crow Moon’ – it’s a really interesting piece of eco-pagan literature, aimed at the YA market. It postulates a future society that’s living much closer to the land, and dealing with the restrictions, the inevitable hard work and limited options this creates. What makes it work as a story is that it isn’t a perfect vision. There is strife, and struggle, and hardship, but you have to balance that against the good things – one of which is the hope of a sustainable future. In the novel, the greenworld culture Pagans are likely to empathise with, contrasts with the redworld, where people are still killing each other over the last remaining fuel supplies. However imperfect a sustainable future is going to be, it’s bound to beat the hell out of the alternatives.

Of course one story doesn’t have to do it all, in fact it’s probably better that we don’t have one perfect story to try and live up to. Our Pagan ancestors had a lot of stories, and diversity makes us stronger. We need lots of ideas right now, lots of different visions of a future that help us remember that the current stories in our culture are not the only stories. The right wing domination of contemporary story making is a real issue and it discourages people from imagining alternative ways of living and being. We’re being hammered with austerity and growth as the only stories of how an economy can work right now, and we’ve got to change that and open it out into something more liveable, more human, more sane.

In the meantime, I can recommend Crow Moon, and anyone interested in writing for the future should also check out Storytelling for a Greener World.

Spoon billed sandpipers

Yesterday I alluded to spoon billed sandpipers as creatures in need of our support.  I first heard about them through the wildfowl and wetland trust. I’ve seen video footage. They are tiny birds, the sort you could easily fail to spot, but rather sweet. There are only 100 breeding pairs left in the wild, and the WWT are breeding them in captivity. More information here:




Being migrants, the spoon billed sandpipers move through a lot of different environments. Birds don’t notice human borders, but when they move between boundaries they are vulnerable to the variances in laws. So many migrant birds are in decline. Habitat loss and being hunted feature prominently in the explanations.

As is often the way of it, the spoon billed sandpipers are ‘posterboys’ for a great many other creatures who all live in the places they pass through. Save the iconic creature and a whole host of less photogenic ones also benefit. And we benefit too. The loss of species and the loss of habitat is also the degradation of our habitat. It is the loss of beauty and inspiration from the world, the loss of genetic diversity. It is the loss of living things that do not deserve to die.

Most of the time, there doesn’t seem to be much that we can do in daily life to support distant and endangered creatures. Throwing money at things does help, if you have money to throw. It brings me back to a question I keep asking – what do we prioritise? Every time we put commerce before sustainability, every time we sacrifice another life form to our hunger for economic growth… As Jo pointed out on her blog this week, every time we spend our money, we make our voices heard. Just a little bit. There’s no shopping choice that will help the spoon billed sandpipers survive. There’s no specific company to boycott, no easy thing to point at as a way of making a good contribution.

But still we can consider the question about how we contribute. How our own priorities and day to day actions shape this world, in which trade is a constant political priority, and extinction barely gets a mention. Judge us as a species and it looks like we value shopping more than we do life, and that’s a pretty scary thought, for me at least.

While projects to save individual species who are on the brink, are undoubtedly good, it’s fire fighting. The causes of endangerment and extinction are not being entirely tackled by this. Causes like pollution, poaching, habitat destruction and war, which have their own causes in human poverty and desperation, and in the desire for wealth. We have so much wealth in the world, so much technology. As a species we could probably address any issue, if we had consensus over it, but mostly we don’t. There’s always something else more ‘important’ to talk about, some short term, money orientated agenda that takes precedence.

Time is finite, and this is our habitat too. If we push ourselves onto the endangered list through mistreatment of the planet, there will be no one to come and rescue us.