Friday, November 23, 2007

Advent Sharing Calendar

As the season of Advent approaches, we begin to dust off those traditions that link one Christmas to another like a string of lights on a tree. For the past several years, I have shared one of my holiday traditions with the readers of this column.

The Advent Sharing calendar was originally created to help us be mindful of those in need during this season of such great excess. This year, more than ever, we need to remember that our planet is in great need, and that the very act of celebrating the holidays can dramatically impact our already stressed ecosystem. As a result, this year's Advent Sharing Calendar will focus on reducing our energy consumption, recycling more and buying less.

To begin, create an Advent Sharing box. Take a small box or coffee can, put a slot in the lid, and then wrap the container in recycled Christmas paper. Monetary gifts are added every day until the Epiphany (January 6th). Gifts should be added as follows:

December 1st – If you have flood insurance, put a loonie in the box and count yourself lucky.

December 2nd – If your home was untouched by severe weather this year, add another loonie.

December 3rd – If you haven’t prepared an emergency kit for your family, add a toonie and then visit to find out how.

December 4th – If you don’t know why you need an emergency kit, add another loonie and them visit to find out about resilient cities.

December 5th - If you drive a full-sized SUV or van, add $ 5.00. If you drive a 6-cylinder vehicle, add a loonie. If you have a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder vehicle or hybrid car, pat yourself on the back.

December 6th - If you don’t use a programmable thermostat, add 50 cents. You’ll need to hang onto the rest of your cash to pay for your heating bill.

December 7th– Add 50 cents for every string of Christmas lights on your house. Add 25 cents for every floodlight. Subtract 25 cents for every string of LED Christmas lights that you use, both inside and out.

December 8th – Add 5 cents for every year of your life untouched by natural disasters.

December 9th – Add 25 cents for every produce item you bought this week that was imported from Asia. And then ask yourself why.

December 10th - Add a loonie if you visited a dollar store this week.

December 11th - Add 50 cents if you haven’t had your car tuned up in the last six months. A properly tuned engine can improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent.

December 12th – Add a toonie if you drive alone to work. Subtract a loonie if you take public transit.

December 13th - If you haven’t checked your tire pressure lately, add another 50 cents. Properly inflated tires not only improve fuel efficiency by 6 to 8 percent, but can also improve the life expectancy of your tires by 30 percent, which means fewer tires in the landfill.

December 14th – Add a loonie for every gift purchased that requires electricity to operate. (This includes battery operated toys and games.) Subtract a loonie for every energy or water efficient gift that you purchase.

December 15th – Add a loonie for every disposable or single use product you purchased as a stocking stuffer.

December 16th – Add a loonie for every degree that your daytime thermostat is set above 20 degrees C.

December 17th – Add a loonie for every degree that your nighttime thermostat is set above 17 degrees C.

December 18th – Add a loonie every time that you leave your car idling while parked.

December 19th – Add $ 5.00 if you don’t recycle. The energy saved by recycling a single aluminum can could generate enough power to run a television for two hours.

December 20th – Add a dollar if you buy your holiday beer in cans, not refillable bottles.

December 21st – On this, the darkest day of the year, add 2 cents for every light bulb inside your house.

December 22nd – When visiting friends and family, slow down! Add 10 cents for every km/h you drive above the speed limit.

December 23rd – If you take a drive around the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights, add $ 5.00. Walking is better for you and gives you time to actually enjoy the lights.

December 24th – On this most magical of nights, add a toonie if you leave your Christmas lights on after bedtime.

December 25th - If you don’t recycle Christmas wrappings and boxes, add a loonie.

December 26th – If you don’t compost the remains of Christmas dinner, add a toonie.

December 27th – If you braved the Boxing Week sales, add $ 5.00. If you drove alone to the mall, add another $ 5.00.

December 28th – Add a loonie for every item of clothing you purchased in the Boxing Day sales that has to be dry-cleaned.

December 29th – Add 50 cents for every load of laundry that you don’t wash in cold water.

December 30th - Add a loonie for every showerhead in your home that isn’t low-flow.

December 31st – Add 5 cents for every disposable glass, plate and napkin you use at your New Year’s Eve party.

January 1st – Resolve to start a carpool at work. For more information, visit

January 2nd - Resolve to use less energy this year. Visit and take the pledge!

January 3rd – Resolve to learn more about protecting the environment. Visit

January 4th - Make a commitment and a budget to replace energy inefficient appliances.

January 5th – Sit down with your family and decide where you would like to send the contents of your Advent Sharing box. Suggestions include the Conservation Council of Ontario Conservation Council of Ontario and The David Suzuki Foundation.

January 6th- (The Epiphany) – Send a cheque to the charity of your choice.


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