I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas

Cultivating a healthy planet requires us to shift from a consumerist mindset towards sustainability. Eco-sustainable gifts are a great way to spread Christmas cheer while promoting sustainability.

Celebrating a ‘Green’ Christmas

Covid has taught us many valuable lessons. One of the most important is the need to live on a healthy planet with a healthy ecosystem. Climate change is real and caused by human action, as is biodiversity loss and air and sea pollution. All of these contribute to unsustainability. Everyone needs to be accountable for their own actions and habits. Christmas and New Year are traditionally the most ideal times to bring about change; that change could be living sustainably. 

Conscious consumption

To be sustainable means to be able to maintain a balanced level of give and take. Right now, the planet is in an unsustainable state. We are currently using around 1.7 times what planet Earth can give. Overconsumption is a big player in this unsustainability and one of the forces driving the climate crisis. Many items are bought and consumed without thinking about a real need, especially during Christmas time. We are relentlessly driven into an over-consumption race with the excuse of gifting and celebrating.

Becoming a conscious consumer means that you put in thought and care before purchasing anything. Asking yourself questions such as: Where was this made? How did it arrive here? Who made it? Who or what suffered so that this product could be created? Celebrating a ‘green’ Christmas is possible when you choose eco-sustainable products. It means that the products were sourced, manufactured, produced, packaged, and transported with respect to the environment. An eco-friendly product is a product that was made with sustainability as a priority. 

What is good for the planet is also good for people

Eco-sustainable products are those products which provide environmental, social, and economic benefits while protecting public health and the environment over their whole life cycle. If you care about what you put in — and on — your body and want to live a healthy lifestyle, choosing sustainable products is the way forward. 

Choosing eco-sustainable options 

This year can end on a good note. Let us start taking responsibility for our actions and choose ethical and sustainable gifts for our loved ones, taking inspiration from Malta’s Top Eco-friendly Gift Ideas, a list created and curated by Eco Market Malta, a Social Enterprise advocating for UN Sustainable Development Goal #12; ‘Responsible Production and Consumption’. 

The list contains a beautiful and well-curated collection of gift ideas from local green start-ups, artisans, and small to medium enterprises. Shopping local is a huge factor for sustainability, as it reduces the product’s carbon footprint. Many items are elegantly boxed but reduce plastic use, while others help people grow their own food, herbs, and flowers. 

There are also several gift options for sustainable home appliances, such as jewellery, clothing, beauty, décor, wellness, children’s toys, gifts for new parents, and unique original ideas such as ‘adopt a dolphin’.

Be the change 

Whether you are buying for an eco-conscious person or someone who is not yet environmentally aware, this list offers amazing gift ideas for everyone. As consumers, we can make a conscious choice to bring positive change into our lives, and since actions speak louder than words, your eco gift will also be a message inviting others to make their own positive impact. A meaningful and thoughtful gift can be more appreciated than a high-priced item. This year, let’s choose to shop sustainably and responsibly, avoid waste, be kind to the planet, and enjoy a simple and ‘green’ Christmas.

To view Malta’s top Eco-friendly Gift Guide please visit: ecomarketmalta.com.

This article is sponsored by EcoMarket Malta.

Quality Education for All

In today’s society, more than 262 million children and youth are not in school. To combat this, the United Nation established Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in order ‘to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’ by 2030. One of these goals, SDG4, is on the importance of quality education, which inspired two art pieces created by Zarifa Dag and Martina Camilleri

Both artists took part in a design competition organised by the University of Malta’s Faculty of Education, asking participants to submit creative designs inspired by the theme of SDG4, which focuses on inclusive and equitable quality education. 

Zarifa has a background in graphic design and digital arts, and her submissions for the competition were heavily inspired by her dual cultural identity, as she has both European and Middle Eastern roots. She travelled to Lebanon in 2018 and volunteered in refugee camps, working with the children of immigrants who fled to Lebanon because of conflicts happening in countries like Syria. This experience allowed her to witness first hand the differences in quality of life and education between children in Malta and refugees. 

Zarifa’s piece is titled Halep’te, which is Turkish for “In Aleppo”, referencing one of the major cities in Syria. Her illustrations centre around an adolescent, representing the younger generation and their future, as well as the people that are at the centre of SDG4. She brings in multiple cultural references through the turban (the Middle and Far East) and crescent (Islam). While her narrative begins with a somewhat bleak representation of the current situation in children’s education, it ends with an element of hope that the situation may improve.

Halep’te by Zarifa Dag

Martina Camilleri, who is currently reading for a Masters of Art in Social Practice Art and Critical Education, presented her take on SDG4 and quality education through a piece titled En Root – a play on the term ‘en route’ – which explores the journey someone takes to get their education. For her first artwork, Seeds We Sow, she asked 40 participants about why they keep looking for education or teaching opportunities. She then photographed their hands and transferred the images onto wooden planks, writing their responses behind each individual plank. 

Seeds We Sow by Martina Camilleri

Her second artwork, titled One Piece, consists of five distinct pieces made from ceramic and mixed media. They represent the five objectives outlined in the Universal Agenda towards quality education: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The pieces do not embody any of the terms individually. Instead, the art views the terms as a unified whole. 

OnePiece by Martina Camilleri
One Piece by Martina Camilleri

Zarifa and Martina’s artworks can be viewed along the main staircase of the Faculty of Education in the Old Humanities Building at the University of Malta. Although the artists interpreted the SDG4 in different ways, they both emphasised the importance of human-centred design. In essence, if somebody is going to use the product, then they should help construct it. The same approach could help achieve quality education for all children, despite socio-economic factors.

Ilħna mill-imgħoddi

reel-to-reel machine in motion

Biex taqra l-artiklu bl-Ingliż, agħfas hawn.

Kaxxi fuq kaxxi, miksijin bl-għabra, jistennew is-sekondiera tagħmel ir-ronda tagħha. Is-sekondi jsiru minuti. Isiru sigħat. Ġranet. Xhur. Snin sħaħ. Deċennji, sewwasew.

Il-Prof. Edward Fenech wirithom mingħand il-Prof. Ġużè Aquilina, imma ġara li l-kaxxi u ta’ ġo fihom ingħataw il-ġenb għal ħafna żmien. Parti ġmielha mill-istorja lingwistika u kulturali tagħna konna bil-mod il-mod qed nitilfuha minn taħt imneħirna.

Mistura fil-kaxxi nstabu r-reel-to-reels li l-Prof. Aquilina, missier il-Lingwistika Maltija, kien uża biex jimmortala l-ilħna bil-kisra djalettali ta’ bosta kelliema minn lokalitajiet differenti f’Malta u Għawdex. 

Illum, kulma jmur qed nagħrfu u napprezzaw il-ġmiel ta’ mużajk li jsawru d-djaletti tal-gżejjer Maltin. Iżda, sa ftit snin ilu, min jitkellem bid-djalett aktarx li kien jitqies ta’ klassi baxxa. Ħtija tal-preġudizzju, xi wħud ippruvaw jinfatmu minn dan l-aspett ewlieni tal-identità kulturali tagħhom. Il-preżenza tad-djalett qajl qajl bdiet tiddgħajjef. In-nies tħalltu fiż-żwieġ, u magħhom tħalltet il-lingwa. Min mar joqgħod f’raħal ieħor kien espost għal djalett differenti, u t-tfal bdew imorru l-iskola u jitgħallmu l-Malti standard, ‘il-pulit’, sajjem minn xi karatteristiċi li jżewqu t-taħdit.   

Il-Prof. Aquilina minn kmieni għaraf li ħaġa daqstant sabiħa ma kellniex nerħuha tiżolqilna minn idejna (jew ħalqna f’dan il-każ), u fis-snin sittin u sebgħin, irħielha lejn xi rħula Maltin u Għawdxin, idur bir-reel-to-reel recorder, jitħaddet man-nies dwarhom infushom, dwar is-snajja’ tagħhom, u dwar it-tradizzjonijiet li wirtu bil-fomm u bl-id. Bil-mikrofonu kien qed jaqbad il-ħsejjes u l-forom tad-djaletti, imma mhux biss. Ma’ kull intervista, kien qed jiddokumenta stil ta’ għajxien li llum jinħass tant ’il bogħod. Bl-għajnuna ta’ Benedikt Isserlin mill-Università ta’ Leeds ġabar 92 audio file b’madwar 50 siegħa taħdit djalettali, mhux kollu tal-istess kwalità. Bil-materjal miġbur, Aquilina u Isserlin fl-1981 ħarġu pubblikazzjoni li tittratta elementi fonoloġiċi tad-djaletti. Daqs tletin sena wara, John Paul Grima sema’ l-audio files wieħed wieħed, u b’reqqa kbira ddokumenta u kkataloga l-ħidma fit-teżina tal-Baċellerat tiegħu.

Fost l-ilħna li ltaqa’ magħhom Aquilina, hemm tal-iskarpan mill-Għarb, li, hu u jmertel il-ġild, jispjega l-proċess tal-ħjūta bl-aktar ġild fin Ingliż. Tħaddet mal-għaġġiena mix-Xagħra, li tispjega kif ħobża titwieled mid-dqiq, tingħaġen u tinħadem sakemm issib ruħha fuq it-tilar, lesta biex tinħema. Tkellem mar-raħħala Żurriqija fuq kif iġġiżż in-nagħġa biex tħaffilha s-suf, fuq nagħġa żgħira li għad ma kellhiex ħaruf (għabura), u n-nagħġa li qatt ma kellha (ħawlija). Skopra kif ix-Xlukkajri jaħslu l-ħwejjeġ bl-ilma salmastru fil-Fawwara tal-Ħasselin, u sema’ kif tinħadem u titħejjet il-bizzilla f’Ta’ Sannat, skont il-bixra li l-lingwa tieħu f’kull post.

Dan il-materjal prezzjuż inżamm f’kaxxi li maż-żmien għoddhom intesew. Kien b’kumbinazzjoni li wara ħafna snin ir-reel-to-reels sabu ruħhom fl-istudio ta’ Anthony Baldacchino. U minn hemm, fuq l-inizzjattiva tal-Prof. Alexandra Vella, beda l-proċess biex il-materjal maħżun fihom jiġi ddiġitalizzat. Xejn ma kien faċli li l-kontenut tar-reel-to-reels l-antiki jinqaleb f’format diġitali. Illum, l-ilħna tal-imgħoddi f’dan il-format, ftit ftit qed jittellgħu fil-portal tar-riċerka malti.mt, li d-Dipartiment tal-Malti se jniedi fix-xhur li ġejjin, ħalli jkunu aċċessibbli għall-istudjużi u għal kull min għandu interess fid-djaletti, is-snajja’ tradizzjonali, u b’mod ġenerali l-ħajja fl-ewwel snin ta’ wara l-Indipendenza. 

Bis-saħħa ta’ dan il-proġett, ikkoordinat mill-Prof. Alexandra Vella, il-Prof. Ray Fabri u Dr Michael Spagnol, dan il-felli tal-istorja tagħna jista’ jitgawda mill-pubbliku u jiġi studjat mir-riċerkaturi ħalli nifhmu aħjar il-qagħda lingwistika tant rikka fil-gżejjer żgħar tagħna. Għax dawn l-ilħna jsawru ħolqa f’katina li tixhed li, għalkemm minn fuqhom m’għaddewx aktar minn ħamsin sena, il-ħsejjes, ir-rakkonti, l-għerf u d-drawwiet li fihom inewlulna pinzellati minn ħajja li m’ilha xejn imma ilha ħafna.

Is-Siġġiewi – 1977
Iż-Żurrieq – 1966
L-Għarb – 1977
L-Għasri – 1964