Zack Gross
Zack Gross

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Celebrate Mother Earth on Mother’s Day This Year 

Brandon Sun “Small World” Column, Saturday,  May 1 / 10

Zack Gross

There is no question that there is a connection between Mother Earth and Mother’s Day.  The big word for our thinking of the world as our Mother is “anthropomorphism” – giving human characteristics to an “inanimate” or non-human object or being. 

The Earth does nurture us. It feeds us, offers materials for clothing and shelter, and provides beauty through its mountain ranges, colourful sunsets and prairie wheat fields. 

Obviously, this is no different from what our mothers offer us from the womb, through our childhood and even after we enter adulthood – love and warmth, personal and material well-being, and someone we can depend upon unconditionally. 

So, we love our two mothers.  But it has been shown that we abuse Mother Earth through pollution, careless resource exploitation, war and in many other ways. 

In recent years, humanity has attempted to “give back” to Mother Earth by responding to our misdeeds with individual, corporate and government initiatives – as we call it, “going green”.  As well, throughout the year, we take our human mothers for granted and on Mother’s Day, we also “give back” to them (and grandmothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters) the second Sunday every May. 

We can celebrate the relationship we have with both our mothers by offering green, ethical and healthy gifts that are good for both.

For Mother’s Day this year, May 9th, I am giving my wife a kayak!  As it’s already been delivered, this announcement is no surprise.  The kayak is a rather overdone (thank goodness for credit!) indication of my abiding love and appreciation of my wife. 

It is also “good for her
, ”offering her a chance to commune with nature and get fit at the same time!  And it’s good for the Earth and its waterways, as it doesn’t leak gas or oil, make noise or even generate much in the way of waves.

There are many other options for green gifts for mothers and wives.  Many men resort to flowers and chocolate.  Tweaking these can make them people and Earth-friendly. 

For instance, if you give a plant for the house or to be planted in your garden, you offer a longer term gift than cut flowers.  As well, cut flowers are almost always grown in tropical climates on land that should be growing food. 

Massive irrigation used in cut flower production is emptying lakes and aquifers in Latin American and East Africa, while the chemicals used cause water and soil pollution.  The poverty and violence in Kenya in recent years is partially linked to cut flower production for European markets.

Chocolates are fine if they are fair trade.  No industry quite says “child slavery” like the cocoa fields of West Africa do.  Children from eight to sixteen, often sold into slavery by their destitute parents, spend long days in heat and dust performing backbreaking labour with little or no pay. 

However, companies like Cadbury’s and Green & Black’s are moving to fair trade, partnering with the United Nations in order to improve the lives of children and poor producers in that region.  Many of the grocery and wholesale chains are also now carrying fair trade options in chocolate, as well as other consumables, such as coffee, tea, sugar and dried fruit.

If you are looking for clothing, there are more organic and sustainably produced items available in cotton, bamboo and hemp.  Fair trade handicrafts, accessories, small furniture items, clothing and shoes are available – as well as food items - in the Brandon area at the Marquis Project and Ten Thousand Villages. 

Donations to organizations who work for a cleaner environment and a fairer world can be made in your loved one’s name.  Greenhouses and craft shops offer green gifts as well as locally handmade items such as pottery. 

Locally made beeswax and soap products are another possibility, as well as local foods such as honey, preserves, baking and dried herbs and spices, and even meats.

The gift of labour is always appreciated - an offer of so many hours of garden weeding, lawn raking and mowing, and even a gift of future snow shoveling.  Something related to health and fitness – a bike, sports equipment, a gym membership, a hamper of healthy foods – would be welcome. 

A “road map” to green living might be the right ticket, such as a subscription to a particular magazine, or a book of local trails or provincial wilderness and natural wonders.  And finally, offer to accompany your loved one in these activities.

There are many ways to give back to the most important women in our lives and the most important planet.  Mother’s Day is an opportunity to do both and can be expressed in the kinds of gifts that we choose to give. 

Mother’s Day was created by activist women who wanted mothers to be recognized for their contribution to society.  Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day and Mother Earth this year as a special combined occasion.

Zack Gross works for the 
Manitoba Council for International Co-operation (MCIC), a coalition of more than 40 international development organizations.

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