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Have a very merry eco-friendly and safe Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2021

From buying and wrapping gifts to decorating your home and planning your holiday feasts, you’ll be surprised to learn that you can have an eco-friendly Christmas and New Year. Because we live on an island surrounded by nature, let’s consider how we can go green while we celebrate.

For example, my family and I have made some shifts in how we decorate. We went from using disposable plastic table covers to using banana leaves to cover our tables. We go into our garden to pick flowers and fruits to adorn the table. Once our decoration pieces are in place, we would then gather around to share about our daily lives. I love to share the history of the Marianas with my children and grandchildren in hopes that they will remember noteworthy events and share them with anyone who will listen. Our children must know the struggles that have shaped our home and history. This will always be my most treasured family tradition.

Another way to stay eco-friendly is wrapping gifts with recycled paper or fabric instead of gift bags or wrapping paper. Yearly, tons of trash fill our landfills and most of it is paper products. When paper rots, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas, and when paper burns, it releases carbon dioxide. A wonderful thing about using recycled paper or fabric is the aesthetic of how you can present a gift. It adds a creative touch that amplifies the sentiment.

As we feast during the holidays, we all know we’re bound to balutan and pack food to take home from family gatherings. This time around, let’s skip the foil and plastic cling wrap and bring our containers with us. Another way to avoid food waste is to be mindful of how much you cook and pour on your plate. It’s better to go for seconds than to waste food that someone else can enjoy.

For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, you start a new tradition and plant trees for the holidays. The annual planting of coconut trees will go a long way because coconuts can be used in many ways. From producing highly nutritious seeds, oils, tonics, and beverage ingredients, coconuts can also provide landscape, construction, and furniture materials, fiber, coir, and medicinal contents. Fruits like coconuts allow for healthy and organic eating and as we continue to battle COVID-19, we must maintain healthy lifestyles.

As we celebrate the holidays, let’s continue to practice the three Ws – wash your hands, wear your mask, and wait at a distance, and avoid the three Cs– closed, crowded, and close-range spaces. Our health is more important than partying. This year, we can find ways to celebrate the holidays more mindfully while protecting our health and the environment. Both will ultimately contribute to returning us to normalcy so we can reopen our tourism industry and get our people back to work.

Felis Pusgua yan Magof Åño Nuebo from my family to yours!

By Herman B. Cabrera

Herman B. Cabrera has been an architect for 45 years and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He has led major projects in the Marianas, such as the revitalization of the Kalabera Cave in Marpi, the Kiosku building, the Japanese Lighthouse building, and multiple building projects in the CNMI Public School System.

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