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earth scouts celebrate winter solstice

Happy Winter Solstice. Today our Earth Scouts group gathered for its regular Monday meeting but also to celebrate a turning point in our seasonal cycles–where the shortest day of the year takes a turn toward longer days. We all enjoyed seeing one another again. It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to attend–as I’m usually working on Mondays, but with the winter break now, I can enjoy such opportunities. The kids were thrilled to get together and were fully in the spirit of this festive occasion.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces.
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun…
              – George Harrison

The meeting begins with the usual Earth Scouts song to draw everyone in and bring the gathering to order. Chris and Heidi–our facilitators–did a great job getting the kids engaged immediately in some conversation about how we can all do our part to have a more eco-friendly holiday season. We shared a bunch of tips some of which included the following.

tips for enjoying an eco-friendly holiday

  • Don’t use traditional wrapping paper, as it cannot be recycled. Instead, use tissue paper, plain brown wrap, funny papers, old maps, or some other creative means to reuse old materials or to at least use materials that you know can be recycled. Try cutting pieces from the fronts of old holiday greeting cards to use as gift tags.
  • Get a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one. Artificial trees consume significant amounts of petroleum-based materials and energy in the manufacturing and transportation process (most come from China). Also, they usually cannot be recycled and will not decompose readily in a landfill. Real trees grown on Christmas tree farms have many environmental benefits. An acre of Christmas trees, for example, produces enough oxygen to support 18 people. Christmas trees are a renewable resource. For each tree cut, typically two or three seedlings are planted. Of course if you already have an artificial tree, keep it and use it for a very long time. (The absolute worse thing one can do is buy a new fake tree every couple years.) Otherwise, continue to get your real tree from a Christmas tree farm and chip it after Christmas for use in your garden.
  • If you must use holiday lights, use LED lights. They are 90% more energy efficient than traditional lights. If you are replacing strings of old incandescent lights with new energy-efficient LED lights, be sure to recycle those old strings. There are places that will take them and properly recycle the materials. The Christmas Light Source will recycle your old lights and donate all proceeds to the Toys for Tots program.
  • Consume less. Try giving “gifts from the heart, not from Wal-Mart.” Handmade gifts are a great way to share your love and holiday cheer with friends and family in a very meaningful way. Plus it reduces that senseless holiday clutter and needless mass consumption.

Ok, after some talk of having an Earth-friendly holiday season, the conversation turned to the special occasion of the day–the Winter Solstice–and to another heavenly body–the sun. We read stories, and the kids each explained what they appreciate about the sun while sharing orange slices–remembering that it is the sun that allows us to have food. It wasn’t all healthful treats, though. We also enjoyed cupcakes decorated with bright yellow suns, while making Christmas tree ornaments outs of reused materials–old CDs.

Enoy a little music while you check out the photos from our day.

The kids all had a great time, and I for one left feeling a renewed appreciation for our Earth, for the sun that gives us life, and for the children who just seem to “get it” amongst so many clueless adults.

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