Posts Tagged ‘sustainable living’

Seasonal Sustainability

There’s nothing like adding a little more stress to the holiday season, but if there’s a way to do it, I’ll find it.   So, it’s only fitting that I would suggest giving some additional thought before racing through a veritable tree drive-through and getting a cut tree.  I should have thought about it years ago, but honestly, it just never occurred to me that there was such a thing as a fake tree.  I grew up in Michigan where pine trees are plentiful and the only choice was to cut it from your yard or buy it from a tree farm.

Is it ok to buy a tree that’s grown on a tree farm for the purpose of decorating your home during the month of December?   In the early 1900s the debate was a hot one, but surely there’s new thinking by now.  Is it better to buy a fake tree that would very likely made out of plastic, contain PVC and be imported from China?  If it’s true that 1-3 seedlings are planted the following spring for every one Christmas tree harvested then cutting one seems ok, but maybe neither is a good choice from an environmental standpoint…

So, there’s another option – a potted tree.  Gosh, it seems obvious, doesn’t it?  Buy the thing in the pot and treat it like any other Christmas tree (ornaments, water, etc.), care for it over the winter as any other house plant and give it a permanent home in the backyard when you start to think about your daffodils.  If you’re really going for it, then find an organic tree farm.

Photo courtesy of TreeHugger.

I realize an article on planning for Christmas that comes out in mid-December is like the Food Network doing a segment about turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, but join me next year, won’t you?  This is my personal campaign to raise awareness for option #3, the potted tree!   I’ll begin the campaign in 2011 — along with a resolution to eat better and exercise.

Just kidding about that last one.

Creating Community

Odonata is an ecovillage in the making, comprised of a core group of families in the Newburyport, Massachusetts area who are looking to live more simply and sustainably.  While still in the early stages of development, Odonata’s founders have concrete ideas about how to create less burden on our environmental resources in their intentional community — including using green building techniques, clustering homes to conserve land, creating common gardens and purchasing food and other necessities cooperatively, to share resources and reduce consumerism.

We recently caught up with Mark Schultz, one of Odonata’s cofounders, who shared his thoughts with us about living more simply in an age of over-abundance:

The biggest addition ecovillage projects add to the conversation about sustainability is a lens into the social elements of sustainability. The power of technology has really made us an incredibly independent nation – independent of each other – while usually the greatest gains are made in collective action. I have studied numerous alternative technologies with an eye to implementing in our village, or servicing or selling as a side-business. You know what every expert said? The #1 technology for the environment was not a technology: it was conservation. Stop using stuff!

The only way I know how to tame the inner child that wants that extra helping of everything is to be with others who believe the same thing. So ecovillage is built through technology, but it is not about technology, it is about people on the planet. While we are all understandably focused on these incredible, new techniques just within our grasp, saying “it’s not just science” is kind of revolutionary in an evolutionary sort of way.

The next Odonata Exploring Membership Meeting will take place Oct. 19th from 2 to 5 p.m. Contact or visit for more information.