A toilet for Christmas!

Guest post magazine article by Green Christian member, Edward Gildea

As the excitement of shopping for the festive season builds to yet another climax, many Christians must be uneasy about the commercialisation of Christmas and wonder what they can do about it.

Politicians have continued their negotiations at COP 28, providing hollow reassurances that their actions will limit global warming to the critical 1.5 degrees, but that should only increase our personal resolve to in “tread more lightly on the planet”.

Over my toilet at home hangs a picture of the toilet it is twinned with in Zambia. A present from my daughters, I couldn’t be more proud of it! Apart from bringing the benefits of sanitation to schools and villages, proper toilets contribute enormously to the safety of girls and women.

During those private moments in the loo, I feel more connected with those in distant countries who are struggling with the basic necessities of life which I take for granted! It is that sense of global connection that we urgently need to foster, in action as well as in prayer.

You can buy cocoa, olive or fruit tree saplings, chickens, goats or clean water at Christian Aid’s Charity Gifts, or bees, a vegetable garden or a greenhouse at CAFOD’s equivalent World Gifts.  

One of the lessons of our Covid world was to realise how dependent we are on complex supply chains and “just in time” logistics. What an opportunity then to support local shops and businesses, local stall holders and craftspeople to buy gifts without air or shipping miles attached, and enjoy the connection of a smile over the counter when you make that purchase!

It is always worth checking out the environmental impact of the things we buy. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans. More if they are pre-washed, and their life is massively reduced if they are stressed with tears and slashes at the knees and thighs. Fashion comes at a terrible price!

Once again it is about connecting with the supply chains of the stuff we buy: Is the environment being degraded? Is the workforce being exploited? Are the CEOs being paid vast salaries at the expense of others? Do they pay their taxes? None of these are easy questions to answer, but a subscription to Ethical Consumer will tell you all you need to know with a handy “ethiscore”. That subscription in itself would make a great present!

The biggest gift of all to give to your family, however, is the gift of an inhabitable planet. With luck, I have a decade or so of life left, but the thought of my legacy already haunts me. I know it will not be a good one. Extreme weather events will increase every year until we reach net zero in 2050, if indeed we manage to achieve that! And that will not be the end of the race; it will be the beginning. The beginning of the race our grandchildren will have to run to remove our massive CO2 pollution from the atmosphere and slowly, over many decades, start to cool the oceans, halt the melting of the permafrost and slow the rates of flooding, drought and wildfires.

Reducing the enormity of the task they face must be the greatest gift of all.

Edward Gildea

Edward Gildea writes magazine articles for his local church, St Mary’s, Saffron Walden in north west Essex, each month. He has kindly given permission to anyone to re-edit for your own parish newsletters. Please credit him and his church website.

You are also very welcome to update and edit Barbara’s Christmas magazine article from 2019.


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Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 30 October, 2023 | Category: Church Magazine Climate Emergency | Comments: 0


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