Mountain Trash Pickup on Christmas Day

Do you include the earth when you celebrate Christmas?

I'm not perfect, and much of our plastic pollution is new to me. My lifestyle was and still (much less now) is toxifying to our planet and there are many more improvements that I am work on. As I make changes I thought I would share a few observations and personal experiences. Below is part of how I celebrated Christmas differently, and my suggestions about Christmas and holiday time.

How did you spend/invest your Christmas? I hope it was more of the - family gathering, joy-filled parties, assisting people in need, volunteering for a charity service... than the all too often - gluttonous food consumption, debt consumerism, learning about drunk driving deaths... and trashing our home planet for short-term entertainment! I am a realist and navigate my life being aware that both experiences exist and I work to reduce the one and expand the other!

Growing up in a country (USSR) that had far less consumption and very little trash (not everything was bad in that Communist system), this "Christmas" holiday in the U.S. seems more like a Have-to-Buy-Something day. It seems to be a time when most people think and feel they must buy more unnecessary (not needed or required) stuff (mostly made from and packaged in non-biodegradable plastic or other toxic substances) and also receive unnecessary stuff? We could all debate the finer details of what defines a need or requirement, but I am referring to the vast majority of presents and gifts that are simply NOT a necessity or requirement.

Before and after Christmas day I saw many pictures on Facebook of happy families next to shiny decorated real 'dead' trees or fake plastic trees. It made me wonder if people knew that their real 'dead' trees was most likely grown using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. I also wondered if they considered the sources and toxic destiny of the shiny and colorful present wrappings. Even though I grew up in a non-religious society, we also had real 'dead' trees to "celebrate" the New Year along with presents under the tree. I chose to "celebrate" Christmas and the upcoming New Year very differently.

The day before Christmas we took our family daily hike at the edge the city. This time our route took us closer to human foot traffic areas and as you can see I picked up allot of plastic trash. It made me think if people also included our planet in their gift giving. Was I now holding their “Christmas gifts“ to the planet?
Lena picking trash hike Christmas Eve. 2012lena-picking-trash-hike-evening
I am not trying to be sarcastic - on our Christmas day sidewalk walk through our "nice" community (we live in a newer designed suburb, with many gated communities that would be considered the complete opposite of a poor area) I took a large bag with me that ended up being filled, and a few of the thrown 'away' trash items happen to be a Christmas reindeer antler and soft (plastic/synthetic) toys, but most of the trash we pick up was food packaging, cans, plastic bottles and plastic bags. I call these items part of the Convenience Trap.
It may seem odd but I actually love picking up "stuff". When I was a child I spent many of my days picking up mushrooms and berries in forest, but now I am picking up other peoples trash. What do you think is the best gift to our children we can give? When I was a child I do not remember myself playing with plastic toys or eating and drinking from plastic containers or bottles. I remember, in my childhood, playing with animals, observing insects, swimming in a clean water, and picking mushrooms and berries in the forest, This is what is most happy and pleasurable time was for me. Unfortunately many children in our modern time do not have the previlege of clean water, air and natural environment.
mushrooms and berries basket gifts from earth
Now our oceans, lakes and rivers are polluted and almost filled with plastic, and forests and tropical rain forests are being cut down to grow more food (mostly soy and corn) to feed cattle, and palm trees grown to produce oils (palm oil) to produce more denatured, unhealthy processed food that is then packed in plastic packaging. Are you aware that there are many children around the world now make a living by collecting plastic packaging (bags, bottles...)?


You might be still wondering why and what do I do with the plastic trash?
I live on the edge of a major city and we go walking or hiking on regular basis (I prefer outside to inside gym facilities), and almost every time we end up picking up other peoples plastic trash. My husband likes to term it "productive exercise"! Even though I do not sell it, just recycle it through my home curbside recycling pickup. I bring the plastic bags to the plastic bag recycle collection bins at the grocery stores. The challenge is that many plastics cannot be recycled, so I am forced to simply put them in the trash. I just cannot walk by and ignore the trash, especially the non-biodegradable and toxic trash. I also think about the many animals, birds and fishes that mistakenly eating plastic garbage and how it causes a slow and painful death. For us Christmas Eve. and day was just another trash pick up day. I wrote this with a focus on Christmas since I was hoping to get more attention to the plastic pollution problem.

A few questions to think about Christmas:

What do you think Christ would do or give to the planet on a Christmas?

What do you think is best gift to our children and future generations?

Did you ever think to "celebrate" Christmas or New Year differently?


 Chopped down pine trees in their prime ....what is their crime?

Ways to reduce or eliminate the environmental issues related to 'Christmas tree', here is a few other choices (in no special order) to use instead of "dead Christmas tree" 

  • Use a miniature living pine tree
  • Rent a living tree 
  • Use recycled cardboard Christmas tree
  • Bike or walk to in-joy a real forest
  • Plant a pine tree in your back yard
  • Buy organic pine oil and spray your home
  • Create new ways to celebrate Christmas without a tree

    I saw this quote and I think it is appropriate for Christmas "If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how extraordinary you can be." ~Maya Angelou

Note: My 'Christmas Tree' research (, ChristmasTreeHistory.comWikipedia...) also informed me that very similar "Christmas Tree" practices actually predate the birth of Christ by several centuries and was used by the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews, and was (still is) part of a Pagan rituals that was actual condemned by the Christian Prophet Jeremiah.

I do not recommend plastic trees also, since it is also very toxic for our environment and workers. Eventually the plastic will be throw away leading to toxifying/killing animals, our planet and eventually our children and families... with our convenient entertainment throw aways - there is no "away". I checked and there are high amounts of birth defects, cancers... around plastic manufacturing factories and petrochemical plants. The problem is they want to keep us ignorant so they can keep making money from our ignorance!

To me the 'Christmas spirit' also includes what 'gifts' and 'presents' we give to our home planet!


Author Info
Lena Mumma
Author: Lena MummaWebsite:
Co-Founder of Ecopeaceful, LLC
environmental pollution
About Me
I love educating about eco and peaceful ways of living, and every now and then exposing people and companies that are not acting in the best interest of the public.
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