Christmas: the holiday’s original religious significance long gone, it’s now marked by excess: food, drink, mass consumption and waste. What questions should the conscious consumer ask before purchasing gifts this Christmas?
Every year there are more headlines about the Black Friday frenzy and an influx of advertising encouraging as much consumption as possible. Each year, more unwanted gifts end up in the landfill — the UK alone throws out more than US$53.8 million worth. Christmas feels less about spending time with family and more about giving and receiving as many gifts as possible.
We know now, more than ever, that living a more sustainable lifestyle is essential to mitigating the effects of climate change and creating a better future for everyone. This also includes being vigilant and conscious in how we gift this Christmas.
What does my recipient really want?
The biggest thing you can do to gift more sustainably this year is to make sure nothing goes to waste — which means getting your recipient something they really value and will use. Thoughtful gifting means knowing your recipient well, and giving them something which will really add value to their life. Does your loved one have a particular interest or hobby? Have they mentioned something they need recently? What types of things do they usually buy for themselves?
Can I get this item second hand?
This is especially relevant for electronics, such as iPhones and laptops, which are very often given as Christmas presents. Can you get that item second hand instead? There are plenty of people selling one year old, like-new items that not only serve their purpose but are significantly cheaper.Every new item we buy carries a carbon footprint and buying things that already exist is an excellent way to ease the strain on our world’s resources.
Can I buy this from a small, local business?
If you do decide to buy new, take the time to research ethical brands, rather than head straight to the high street. There are so many amazing brands out there that are doing great things for the planet - what better gift than to support these brands. Generally speaking, ethical brands also produce higher quality products which are made to last - I’d much rather receive something high quality that has a social impact than an item that will need replaced after a few months.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
— ANNA LAPPE
Could I make something?
There is nothing more touching than a homemade gift. What about making a few gifts this year? For example, try making a macrame plant hanger, some homemade body lotion or a candle. At the end of the day, giving gifts is about making other people happy, and the thought that goes into homemade presents is sure to be appreciated. Plus, making gifts is much more enjoyable than traipsing around the shops in the rain.
Do I need wrapping paper?
Did you know most wrapping paper is not recyclable? And every Christmas consumers go through mountains of it, all to be ripped apart and placed in the bin in under a few minutes. This year, choose plain brown paper (recyclable), old newspaper, a tote bag or scarf as wrapping paper. Last year I collected some nice leaves from outside and used this as decoration along with some string.
mimycri for Christmas?
These are just a few suggestions for how you can take a more sustainable approach to Christmas gifts this year. There are many more examples of sustainable and ethical gifts, but they all have one thing in common - they were not produced at the expense of people, the planet or animals.
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