Slow Christmas events ask people to give more and buy less this holiday season

Greenpeace Czech Republic tell us how you can help save the oceans by slowing down holiday spending and overconsumption.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 14.12.2020 14:59 (updated on 14.12.2020)

There are plenty of ways to give charitably in the Czech Republic throughout the holiday season. But supporting a cause year round can be a more lasting gift.

Those looking for a non-profit to support may be interested to learn that one of the most visible environmental organizations in the world is active in the Czech Republic and is currently hosting online events and seeking volunteers and donations.

Spanning over 55 countries, Greenpeace relies on individual supporters and grants to sustain its activities, which are currently focused on protecting the world's oceans in what is being called the largest nature conservation project in history.

photo: Greenpeace Česká republika
photo: Greenpeace Česká republika

Greenpeace’s Czech branch recently joined this global campaign to create a network of marine reserves, calling for 30 percent of the world's oceans to be protected by 2030 — and it's asking for people who live in the landlocked Czech Republic to support the initiative by not only donating but reconsidering holiday consumption.

“The high seas belong to us all, and we must all work to protect them. Just as we protect the most valuable nature on land, for example in national parks, we must also protect the high seas. And the Czech Republic can actively help protect the oceans,” said Jan Freidinger of Greenpeace Czech Republic.

More than 3.5 million people have already supported the global campaign to protect the oceans. This is largely due in part to the release of a short animated video “Turtle Journey,” made for Greenpeace by the Aardman Animations, the studio behind the popular children's series Shaun the Sheep and films with Wallace and Gromit.

David Harbour and Dame Helen Mirren lent their voices to the film, which debuted with Czech subtitles in November.

According to Greenpeace, over 90 percent of some types of large fish have been caught due to overfishing. Six of the seven species of sea turtles have problems: two species are critically endangered, one is endangered and three are classified as vulnerable. That’s why Greenpeace created “Turtle Journey,” in which a family of turtles tries to get home and a series of pitfalls await them along the way.

“Many industrial fishing methods are unusually destructive. Fishing boats often haul giant nets along the seabed, taking with them everything that comes their way. All that is left is havoc and a dead area. The animated turtles in the Greenpeace video face one such fishing net,” Greenpeace spokesman Lukáš Hrábek said.

photo: Greenpeace Česká republika
photo: Greenpeace Česká republika

Oceans absorb up to 30 percent of the carbon dioxide we emit and absorb 90 percent of excess heat. They also produce half the oxygen on our planet and hide valuable ecosystems such as underwater meadows and mountains and are home to and migratory routes of sea life. But Hrábek pointed out that less than 1 percent of international waters are protected.

And while the oceans are facing devastation from industrial fishing and the effects of climate change, communities across the world that depend on the sea are also struggling. Protecting the ocean with sanctuaries means supporting their livelihoods, fighting climate breakdown, protecting food security, and saving wildlife.

photo: Greenpeace Česká republika
photo: Greenpeace Česká republika

The concept of a marine reserve network was introduced by Greenpeace in 2005. The concept for protecting oceans has since then reached the UN. Next year the UN will discuss the topic for the fourth time and decide on a proposal.

Freidinger told us that you can support Greenpeace in your own name, or by donating to them on behalf of someone else as gift. He added that, "Giving now is important, so Greenpeace has the resources to promote its ambitious goals before the UN decides on the Global Oceanic Treaty early in 2021."

photo: Greenpeace Česká republika
photo: Greenpeace Česká republika

Reducing coal use and greenhouse gases is another key issue for the Czech branch of Greenpeace, which has been calling on the government to listen to climate scientists instead of industrial lobbyists.

An important step the Czech Republic can make as a country toward helping improve the state of the oceans is by further reducing CO2 emissions and coal combustion. Czech coal-fired power plants contribute to acidifying the oceans. Support for European climate goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement can also be part of Czech activities leading to the protection of the world's oceans.

Saving the rain forests from destruction, protecting the Artic and Antarctic, ethical and sustainable food, and protection of the local environment have also been long-term Greenpeace projects.

Beyond just making a donation, those in Prague and the Czech Republic can become more directly involved in Greenpeace by volunteering, or participating in one of its ongoing family-oriented "slow-holiday" projects or events currently being hosted by Greenpeace.

These are a series of family-oriented events in the weeks leading up to Christmas. These projects, under the hashtag #zpomalvanoce (Slow Christmas), are intended to slow down the seasonal rush. Participants can make their own gifts and decorations, and learn new skills. The project is is intended to counter unsustainable consumption and its impact on climate.

photo: Greenpeace Česká republika
photo: Greenpeace Česká republika

People can also do more than donate money or sign petitions. There are several ways to volunteer. These include helping to give out information, translating, making banners, and taking part in nonviolent actions.

This article was written in cooperation with Greenpeace Czech. Read more about our partner content policies here.