Monday, July 4, 2022

Celebrating new traditions that represent our values


A few years ago, I joined the Zero Waste Tucson community on Facebook. I've learned so much from the group about how to enhance our lifestyle by reducing the use of single-use plastic by practicing the 5 R's of Sustainability: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (compost). The holiday today got me thinking about a particular post... A member was fretting over how to tell her mother not to buy more plastic toys for her children. She knew it was a sensitive subject since that was one way her mother expressed her love for her grandchildren.  But her whole house was already full of plastic toys that the children only played with once. I imagine she didn't want her children to equate love with material possessions. Perhaps more important was her need for her mother to respect her shift in values - away from a consumer lifestyle. 

Since we transitioned to a reduced-waste lifestyle, we have become more conscious of our own wasteful consumer traditions during the holidays. We have found ways to celebrate the holidays that don't involve food waste, disposable plates, and wrapping paper. But gift giving was another matter. It was actually difficult for me when my grown kids no longer wanted to participate in a Christmas centered around gift giving - that was our family tradition. 

I still feel nostalgic when I hear Christmas music piped over the store intercoms in November (sometimes October!) It brings me back to happy times of exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree. But if I'm honest, there were more moments of disappointment, jealously, and stress. It was actually a relief when I didn't have worry about Christmas shopping anymore. I finally came to realize, at the ripe age of  53, what I really wanted was family time and tradition.

As I hear neighbors setting off fireworks every 4th of July, I feel conflicted. I don't want to scare the neighborhood dogs or risk a fire by following that tradition. While I still pine for those family get togethers, I realize that my values have changed. I no longer want to participate in another consumer holiday. During these challenging times, it's become important to me to build family traditions that fit with our new values. 

We're blessed to enjoy a rich sustainable lifestyle. That's worth celebrating! We've created some little traditions to do just that. I'd like to share some with you. 

Celebrate nopales season by picking pads and preparing a prickly pair brunch with a nopales scramble and prickly pear fruit lemonade or margarita. 

Celebrate purslane season by picking some purslane, rinsing it off over a bowl and pouring the little black seeds under a plant that's already being watered.  Then make your family's favorite purslane recipe. 

Celebrate mesquite season by gleaning pods before the first rain and eating mesquite pancakes or cookies.

Celebrate the start of Monsoon Season!  Rush out and watch how the rain is sinking into the catchment basins.  #lovemyrainbasin Take lots of pics!  Dance in the rain! Warm up with a hot bowl of soup made with food scrap broth. Sit on the porch and watch the storm roll in, toasting it with loved ones. 

Celebrate the moringa tree growing back after the monsoon by hanging branches out to dry into tea or making moringa soup with the green leaves and pods. 

Celebrate the summer harvest by picking tomatoes and basil grown in homemade compost with rainwater from the cistern by serving tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella on homemade bread. 

Funny how many of these traditions revolve around food. Some things never change!  

We've found these traditions all the more rewarding because they celebrate the fruits of our labor.  Here's to hoping you come up with some meaningful traditions of your own! Cheers! 


Greening the Holidays: How to Celebrate Sustainably

Sonoran Desert Foraging: What to Forage in Summer

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