Q Do you have suggestions on how to build a movement that advocates buying green/local/ fair trade during the holidays?
A Let me preface this with a note to all the Santa-haters of the world: please don't lob sharp objects at me for bringing up a Christmas-related question one week after Halloween. This is exactly when all the gaudy garlands and silver bells start popping up en masse in the malls. If you want to counter the marketers who'd sell us reindeer poop if they could, you have to start early.
Begin by checking out your competition. You might learn a thing or two from, say, the clever former Adbuster editor and Mennonites behind the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign. I mean, jeez, the site sells absolutely nothing, but it's got a Buy Nothing Catalogue, a script to a Buy Nothing Musical and catchy Buy Nothing carols (including my fave, Consumer Wonderland; www.buynothingchristmas.org.)
Not that you need to pen a whole play, but a little Eaton Centre carolling of your own with a local theme could go over well. You know, like "Dashing through the malls / On a maxed-out credit card / Is way less fun / Than a local craft fair / Where kids don't make the toys. Hey!"
Even some good old-fashioned flyering in high-traffic shopping zones (where mall security can't get you) could snag some attention. Just make sure you print on recycled paper.
There's no denying a great deal of green activism happens in the virtual world. A how-to-green-your-Xmas website could reach a lot of eyeballs without your ever having to leave your living room.
You can link to earth-friendly independent shops that sell the kind of goods you'd like to see people buy (like www.grassrootsstore.com, www.organiclifestyle.ca and www.ecotoytown.com; look for lots of other green prezzie sources in the NOW gift guides November 22, 29 and December 6).
Your concept could spread like a California wildfire if you start hobnobbing through social networking sites like Facebook. Set up your Dreaming Of A Green Xmas facebook group or whatnot, keep the page fresh and watch it grow. (Note: This is not an opportunity to nag me about joining Facebook. My long-term goal involves more time away from my laptop, not less!)
And don't just blog on Facebook. Join green communities on sites like Livejournal.com and start blogging there, too. Actually, my Web-savvy colleagues insist you should cross-post your blog on as many blog sites as you can to get the word out.
But before you do any of this, you need to flesh out exactly what you're going to say when someone comes to you for tips on having an eco-friendly, fairly traded, local holiday.
I always tell people to make their own gifts. And, no, you don't have to be a crafty Martha Stewart Living subcriber to actualize this one. Of course, you can go learn how to make your own candles, sew a scarf or bake some cookies (www.diynetwork.com has lots of good crafty ideas, by the way), but you can also give out your time with a homemade coupon for a free guitar lesson, a babysitting session or a home-cooked meal.
Easier still, send people to one of the millions of craft shows in church basements and community centres over the next month, where they'll connect with all kinds of amazing local artisans, instead of to cookie-cutter chain stores pushing junk.
Give them links to ecards (like www.care2.com) so no trees have to suffer for our season's greetings. Post tips on making your own wrapping paper with magazines or old fabric scraps.
Invite people to toss in their own two cents and tell their stories of holiday greening. Soon enough, you might just have enough momentum to give Rudolph a run for his money.