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Why Some Families Have Decided To Go Present Free This Christmas

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A tremendous amount of waste is created every year during the Christmas season.

  • Reflect On:

    What is the meaning of Christmas to you? Are gifts the most important part or are you just following along with what has been ingrained in our consumer-driven society?

Ahhh it’s that time of year again — everywhere you look decorations, shiny lights, Christmas trees and of course, mass consumerism. Yes, it’s me again, some call me Scrooge, I’m here to bust through the notion that Christmas is not Christmas without presents. Because in all honesty, take away the presents and what are we left with? You’re right, it’s not nothing it’s something deeper and more meaningful than material goods; it’s love, connection and family, but it’s also important to recognize that for many it’s a time of grief sorrow and despair, with or without presents. I hate to break it to you, but…

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It’ the most wasteful time of the year.

Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, estimates each Canadian tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays, 25 per cent more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchase of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six millions rolls of tape.

Altogether, 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper and gift bags are thrown out each year and many unwanted gifts will be packed into cupboards.

Because of this, many families are attempting to lighten their load, combat clutter and make the holidays much less stressful by cutting out presents completely and opting for experiences, homemade baking and virtual gifts.

Richard Clapman, who works on the Waste and Resource Action Program (WRAP) explains how the younger generations are having an “awakening” in regards to how they feel about the environment and why it may be important to shift away from conventional gift-giving.

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“They’re increasingly looking for experiences rather than ‘stuff.’ I think this is partly driven by their concern for the planet, but also because they already have so much stuff.” he told the independent.

Families Going Gift Free

Alexa Tibbs, 35, mother of two children aged 3 years and 8 months decided to give up presents last year after being overwhelmed by the amount of plastic toys given to her children

“Some of the presents I got I used to hide in the cupboard and not even give them to the kids. They get so much,” she told the independent.

“My daughter Lyra was excited about Christmas but didn’t really understand it and completely lost interest in her presents. It was quite embarrassing because there were a few presents she didn’t even bother opening. She liked the wrapping paper more.

“Our family gets bigger and bigger each year and I hate to waste money on presents no one wants,” says Alexia, who added that she used to “panic buy” and spend far too much.

Alexa now donates chickens to a community in rural Africa through a charity called Send A Cow on behalf of her family.

“I love Christmas and it’s still really fun. This year we’re going to do up the shed like Santa’s grotto. He’s not going to be giving out Christmas crap but it’ll be fun, we’ll see friends and I’ll still have my Christmas playlist.

“My mum has such fond memories of Christmas. She was from a poor family and would get a tangerine, an orange, or a bag of nuts at Christmas and she has the most wonderful memories of those tiny little things at this time of year. I know society has completely moved on but I would like my kids to have an element of that – that Christmas is a treat.”

“For my extended family I think not giving presents is a bit of a relief. We can just enjoy spending time together,” she says.

David March, 59, who lives in Great Broughton near the North York Moors, stopped giving and receiving Christmas gifts 25 years ago.

“People look miserable before Christmas. People feel obliged to act in a certain way and it saddens me more than anything – they’re either drunk or stressed to hell,” he also told the independent.

“I have seven siblings and I remember when we were growing up the presents under the tree took up a quarter of the room. When I started working in 1977 I brought presents for all my nephews and nieces and it cost me a whole week’s wages.

“I used to be the same as anyone else. When I heard people talking about the environment, I thought they were just bloody hippies. But then in 1985 I heard about global warming and knew we were in trouble.”

 “I decided I didn’t want to go along with this Christmas madness and the crap that comes along with it and I’ve never looked back,” he says.

“Since Christmas Day 2003 every year Natty Dread and me did a 20-mile walk from Tadcaster to York that took us all day. I packed cheese and pickle sandwiches, a couple of chocolate bars and a packet of sherbet lemons, which I could share with Natty Dread. I also used to give him a disgusting thing – a dried pig’s ear – as a once-a-year treat.

“When I first did it I never saw anybody but over the years I saw more and more people doing the same thing as me, I think they’d just had enough of Christmas.”

Stressful Times

Scientists even say that people are most likely to have heart attacks during the Christmas season because of increased emotional stress.

Personally, I stopped buying gifts a few years ago after realizing how meaningless it had become. I have several nieces and nephews, two of which are twins, who just happen to have 8 sets of grandparents! So, you can only imagine the amount of gifts they receive from their grandparents alone, and I can’t say for sure, but there is likely even some competition among all of these grandparents — who can out do the rest? I get it, many people from this generation lived in poverty or during a time when gifts were sparse, so they like to give the children everything they wish they could have received as children. But what I started to notice was that my niece and nephew received so many presents that they would just rip one open, look at it briefly, call out, “Next!” and just keep ripping open gifts, without a care of who it came from or what it even was. They couldn’t help that they were spoiled, but they were! My sister had a closet full of gifts that she would keep from Christmas and donate because they received more gifts than they had room for or would ever have the time to use. This is when I decided to stop buying gifts for them, and start having experiences with them instead.

I am not against Christmas — although in all honesty I’m not even remotely religious, however, I am against consumerism. I take my nieces and nephews sledding, or to the pool or do fun things with them at Christmas, because these are the things that they remember as they get older and they really appreciate the quality time spent with family and, you may have already guessed it — your presence.

Time To Reflect

In preparation for and while celebrating the holidays this year, you may want to ask yourself the following questions…

  • Are you going beyond your means to go all out and buy presents for those who may not even need them?
  • Are you being a conscious consumer and doing what feels right to you, or just following the status quo and what you may have been led to believe that Christmas is all about?
  • Are there other ways that you can celebrate the holidays without the main attraction being on gifts?It still can be fun to open up gifts, so perhaps a Secret Santa gift exchange is worth considering as this will drastically cut down on both waste and consumerism.What is really important to you? Think back to your childhood, and your own memories of Christmas, is it the specific gifts that you remember or other non-material things?

This is an excellent conversation to have with your children and see if they might be motivated to do something of service for those less fortunate during the holiday season. Or consider making or baking gifts instead.

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Forget Nursing Homes! Welcome Co-Housing, Communal Homes For Our Beloved Aging Friends

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many seniors are living in isolation in nursing and retirement homes nationwide. This often leads to loneliness and depression.

  • Reflect On:

    There must be a better way! There is, imagine growing old with purpose, passion and community. Not only for yourself, but for your parents, grandparents and aging friends as well.

When I came across this topic and decided to write about it, I was blown away that this isn’t already more of a “thing” and it isn’t very common for seniors to shack up together and live in communities. This is especially shocking as many elders are living in complete isolation, which has been shown to cause anxiety and depression. 

If you are thinking, isn’t that what nursing homes are for? So they don’t have to live alone, in isolation? — well, contrary to popular belief, nursing homes can be very lonely places for elderly people. In fact, it is not uncommon for elderly people to experience social isolation, leading to depression and loneliness right inside these homes. Many believe that a nursing home would alleviate these issues, but these feelings of depression don’t go away and in many cases, they only worsen.

In the Western world, a nursing home is the most common place for seniors to go once they reach a certain age. It seems this is symptomatic of our culture because in many other countries the elderly people live with their adult children and grandchildren and are taken care of  in their old age. They would never dream of dropping their parents off at a retirement home just because their parents have reached a certain point in their lives where it is difficult for them to care for themselves.

Is It Finally Time To Revamp Retirement Homes?

The concept of community housing for our retired and aging friends has recently come into awareness, and really, I couldn’t think of a more brilliant solution to a system that is not really working for millions of seniors across the country–well, entire western world more likely.

How Does This Work?

However you wish! Some seniors prefer to have their own space within a community setting with communal spaces to share and socialize in. A tiny home community could work well for this type of setting. Others prefer having a large house and having other seniors as roommates, encouraging more connection on a regular basis. Also, some options include having seniors live with other families with children in communities. It’s really up to the specific individual, as we all have different needs, including seniors. Often the nursing homes have a sort of one-size-fits-all approach, and they often cost a small fortune to boot.

Buying a piece of land and parking tiny homes on it or pooling some finances together to purchase a larger house would undoubtedly be cheaper than the combined cost of staying in a nursing home. They can also cook together and share meals together, which would be much more cost effective than the food offered in a nursing home.

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Benefits Of Senior Community Homes

The seniors themselves get to decide exactly what they want to create, as the co-housing communities are founded and run by the members. Instead of the high-priced care from nursing homes, the members of the communities agree to take care of one another. If it’s too much, they could likely afford to have a nurse come to the home at scheduled times with the money they’ve saved. Ideally, they would look out for one another and keep a schedule so that everyone stays on track with important dates. Maybe they even have some animals to bring them joy and affection, gardens to get them outside in the sun, and plenty of hobbies and activities to work on together. Really, the benefits are endless here, as long as they are able to cooperate and get along with the other residents of the community, it would work out well.

Children of these seniors would feel better knowing that their parents are enjoying their final years accompanied by friends and fun.

Someone needs to design a website that can assist the connection of like-minded seniors within certain cities or states, so they can make profiles discussing their likes, interests and hobbies and find friends with similar passions. Like tinder, but a whole lot more innocent. 😉

What do you think of this idea? Would you like to live in a co-housing community when you reach old age rather than be alone for your final years? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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Washington States Creates A Bill To Stop Companies From Bottling Their Water

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Washington is looking to become the first state to ban bottled water operations in an effort to protect its natural aquifers.

  • Reflect On:

    Should we not be protecting the natural water sources in an effort to counteract the absurdity of bottling a natural resource to begin with? Consider the resources needed to obtain, bottle and distribute it across the country.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the thought of bottling water was just as comical as the idea of bottling air is to us today–even thought that’s becoming more of a thing. Over the course of just a few decades, the bottled water industry has blown up and total worldwide sales are expected to reach $344 Billion by 2023. Clearly, consumers are creating that number as they have the purchasing power, but at what cost to our planet? As a concern for environmental sustainability continues to grow, it becomes more untenable to allow such practices. Recently, the state of Washington, known for it’s beautiful mountains and abundant fresh water sources, has passed a new bill through the senate that will ban new water permits.

Washington State is abundant with glacier-fed springs and lush rainforests and will become the first state in the country to put a total ban on any new water-bottling operations that are seeking to rape the state’s natural resources. This proposal is one of a few that are currently in progress in Washington aiming to protect the local groundwater and to fend off the rapidly growing bottled water industry.

The Bill

Once signed into law this bill will retroactively go into effect and apply to any new permits filed after Jan. 1, 2019. The Guardian reports,

“Washington State is carving the path towards a groundbreaking solution,” said Mary Grant, the director of Food & Water Action’s public water for all campaign, in a statement, as The Guardian reported. “This legislation … would ban one of the worst corporate water abuses – the extraction of local water supplies in plastic bottles shipped out of watersheds and around the country.”

Activists have been trying to raise awareness about the consequences of these massive water-bottling companies effectively stealing water from natural sources nationwide, bottling it, then shipping it elsewhere leaving local aquifers depleted. This is so backwards on so many levels. Consider the resources to obtain the water, to transport it, to store it, then to produce the plastic water bottles, bottle it then ship it out across the country. If our actions were harmonious with our planet, we would all get our water from the sources that are closest to us.

Shouldn’t There Already Be Laws Banning This?

Washington State Senator Reuven Carlyle, who supported this bill, explained this outrageous situation well by saying,

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I was jolted to the core to realize the depth and breadth and magnitude of how they have lawyered up in these small towns to take advantage of water rights. The fact that we have incredibly loose, if virtually nonexistent, policy guidelines around this is shocking and a categorical failure.

Leaked emails revealed some seriously shocking intentions by bottling company Crystal Geyser, who had planned to open up a bottling plant near Mount Rainier. Locals of this area were concerned that pumping 400 gallons per minute could lead to dry wells. The emails revealed that Crystal Geyser had begun a legal campaign attempting to sue the local subdivision that was opposing the bottling facility. They were also planning on starting an underground public relations campaign in order to garner support for their proposal. According to Tribune News Service,

“Pumping water out of the ground, putting it in plastic bottles and exporting it out of the state of Washington is not in the public interest,” said Craig Jasmer, a leader of the Lewis County Water Alliance, the group that sprung up to oppose the Randle plant and has pushed for the statewide ban.

This company in particular doesn’t have the best track record in regards to concern for environmental welfare. In January of this year, the company pleaded guilty to storing wastewater laden with arsenic in Eastern California and then delivering it to water treatment plants without informing authorities of its toxicity. The Center for Environmental Law & Policy had this to say:

Washington’s waters belong to the people of Washington. There has been an increasing number of proposals to locate commercial water bottling plants in Washington. These plants would allow Washington’s water to be taken for the benefit of corporations and users outside of the local area, perhaps out-of-state.

What Can You Do?

The answer is so simple, and yet if adopted on a global level could completely eradicate this problem… STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER! Water is a natural resource that is free for every other species on this planet, and contrary to popular belief, we do not HAVE to pay for it. As rumor has it, the first bottled water company, Evian, hides a telling message about those who choose to purchase bottled water in its name. Evian is “Naïve” spelled backwards, indicating the nature of consumers who fall for this marketing gimmick.

Sure, there are several reasons to validate buying bottled water:

  • to avoid contaminants in the municipal water supply such as fluoride and chlorine (Be advised however, that these chemicals are often still contained in water that is bottled)
  • for added vitamins and minerals
  • if you are on the go and want to stay hydrated
  • you like the taste
  • you are traveling in a foreign country and are concerned of any pathogens in the water

Solutions

There are solutions to all of these above issues, however, that could ensure you never have to buy another plastic bottle of water again:

  • If you don’t like your tap water or want to avoid the added chemicals, you can install a good filtration system at home if you can afford it. Or you can purchase Reverse Osmosis water from many grocery stores and you simply bring a big 5 gallon jug to refill every time. There is also the option of finding a local spring, you can do so here at findaspring.com and bottle your own
  • In regards to vitamins and minerals, just add your own vitamin drops to your own water source
  • Reusable water bottles, ideally good quality ones that are durable and made to last, are a great option and over a short time they will save you money as well. I don’t leave my house without filling up my water bottle to take with me
  • If you prefer the taste of bottled water, I would again recommend purchasing 5 gallon Reverse Osmosis water
  • If you are traveling, this is the only instance in my opinion that justifies the purchase of bottled water. However, there are still many options you can take with you to sterilize the water. I’ve used a portable UV light before that works very well. If you have the means you can also boil the water before drinking it.

We don’t have to be perfect, but if everyone just put in a little bit of effort, we could drastically reduce one of our extremely unnecessary environmental footprints, save money, and save our natural resources. And as an added perk, we would keep our hard-earned dollars out of the hands of massive corporations that don’t have the best interest of the planet or its inhabitants at heart.

Can you do it for the planet?

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Is Brexit The First Domino To Fall In The Liberation Of The Planet?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Brexit has been in effect for almost a month and the sky has not yet fallen in.

  • Reflect On:

    Does this mark the end of globalism and the embracing of a multipolar world?

The monumental withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union at 00:00:01 am on February 1st, 2020 finally allowed us to witness whether prognostications from the prophets of doom would come true. Amidst fears being pushed right up until the end that this move would result in absolute chaos and the weeping and gnashing of teeth, this event yielded the same results that other such events have produced: the realization that there was never anything to fear.

Of course those prophets of doom will never recant, they will just press forward with future predictions of how Brexiters will eventually rue the day they left the European Union, with some form of quasi-threat that the UK will never be able to establish the favorable economic ties they had with the rest of Europe under the ‘Union.’

Time will ultimately tell all, of course, but logic would dictate that if a nation is fully independent and free to accept or reject any terms offered, they are in a much better bargaining position than if they are already hamstrung by the rules and regulations dictated by their would-be trading partner.

If we can look at a particular geopolitical pattern of power unification that has long been rising and now has started to fall, we may view Brexit as not only a boon to the UK’s economic outlook, but indeed as the beginning of the end of a long sought-after endeavor to enslave humanity within a rigid centralized economic system.

The New World Order

The phrase ‘New World Order’ is often associated with the Latin phrase ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’ which has adorned the American dollar bill the past 85 years, in terms of the plans of a global elite conspiring to create a totalitarian world government hidden in plain sight. While this link remains somewhat speculative, one thing that is true is that more than one president has employed the phrase in an attempt to inspire countries of the world to come together fully under a centralized economy and system of governance.

George H. W. Bush famously employed the phrase in a speech on September 11th, 1990, at a time when few people had suspicions about the true motives of global institutions like the United Nations or the perceived need for a new world political and economic order:

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We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order–a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful–and we will be–we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.’s founders. (source)

Perhaps the prospects for the implementation of this new world order reached its apex early in the presidency of Barack Obama, who was so eloquently able to couch the concept of an unelected, totalitarian government running the planet within ‘pillars’ such as peace and security, environmental preservation and economic opportunity, as he explains to the UN General Assembly below.

Since this time, however, some of the true ‘pillars’ of a totalitarian system of enslavement have begun to impact human consciousness, especially in the European Union: the breakdown of national sovereignty and identity, untenable refugee and immigration policies, and backbreaking economic austerity measures.

Protests like the Yellow Vests movement in France and elsewhere in Europe where austerity measures under the EU have been foisted upon a nation rage on. These movements have gotten little coverage in the mainstream, except on occasions where they can characterize these movements as violent. As time goes on, there is only an increase in the clear and present resistance to the global elite telling everyday citizens that their standard of living can no longer be what it used to be. And such resistance is powering the geopolitical winds of change.

The Multipolar Vision

Born out of this growing global environment of discontent and dissatisfaction, an important precedent to Brexit was the election of Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of nationalism (critics repeatedly called it ‘outdated protectionism’) with the promise to ‘Make America Great Again’ by bringing jobs back home that had been shipped overseas and cancelling U.S. involvement in global economic schemes like the Paris Accord, while renegotiating trade deals with other countries.

Philosophically, Trump has found an ally in Vladamir Putin. One of the reasons that Putin has been demonized by the West is that he has always been the most powerful opponent of American hegemony, and has fought tirelessly to promote a multipolar vision in global politics and economics. If we look at recent history, we see that Russia has shown little evidence of wanting to establish global domination in the way that the American Empire has done through wars, regime building and permanent military presence all over the world.

In a speech in December 2019, Putin stated flatly that the new world order (‘unipolar world’) was dead, and signs in global economic relations reflected his fervent belief that a multipolar world, in which there are several points of power and sovereignty, Russia being one of them, is essential for a secure and prosperous world.

It [the multipolar world] has been established, a unipolar world does not exist anymore. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an illusion that this world is possible and could exist for a long time. However, it was just an illusion. I have always said that, and recent events serve as a testament to this. (source)

The ongoing push for Brexit, finally realized a year after Putin’s speech, is surely one of those signs. And as other countries in the European Union start to see the impact of leaving on the UK’s economy, and perhaps more importantly on their autonomy, it may not be long before Grexit, Frexit, Spexit and other such colloquial terms start to take hold and put the nail in the coffin of Europe’s contribution to the globalist agenda.

The Takeaway

Human beings have an innate desire for unity, and it is this very desire that globalists have long tried to manipulate in order to fulfill their plans for world domination. The fact is, though, if these leaders truly had the best interests of humanity at heart, and really wanted to bring the planet together, they would have long handled problems such as war, environmental destruction, starvation and slavery.

Our destiny is unity, but the process will require several waves of decentralization before the true unity of humanity can be achieved. We see the beginnings here with Brexit, where nations are beginning to reject the global centralization of power. From there, sovereign nations will need to cede power to their states and cities. Those in turn will have to cede power to their communities. And then, finally, the communities will need to restore the power and sovereignty of individuals by being fundamentally grounded in the principles of Natural Law, which protects the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of each individual.

When individuals become sovereign, through an awakening of their consciousness that enables them to become fully responsible for the state of their world, that is when the true unity of the planet becomes possible.

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