Friday, 23 October 2020

Reducing your consumption this Christmas

We are soon to have Halloween and after that is over, it's traditional for Christmas shopping to begin.  Trends this year suggest however that people are already shopping for Christmas with restrictions leading to increases in demand. It really highlights the extent that Christmas has become hugely commercialised in the most recent decades.  

If you have a think about it though, how much of the excessive spending and purchasing that is done at Christmas time is necessary or desireable.  Very often gifts that are bought for others are unwanted or unneeded, with many of them being thrown out or discarded after the holidays. In a society that is bursting at the seams with stuff, and in homes that are struggling to hold more, not to mention waist lines that are ever expanding through over consumption, maybe it's time to introduce a little moderation.  

It is nice to receive a thoughtful gift and it's nice to give them too, so I'm not going to discourage the practice.  I am however going to suggest that there are ways to give gifts without being a burden on the earth or our pockets.

Childrens expectations can be managed around Christmas gifts, and the excess that is seen in some gift giving for children could be moderated somewhat. Gifts could be chosen that use less plastic and that encourage creativity and fun, without major damage to the planet we hope to pass onto the next generation.  

There are lots of things you can do if you wish to change the habits we have all developed over the years as society became more consumption focused.  I have outlined some suggestions below that you might consider as alternatives to mass consumption and excessive spending this coming Christmas. 

You could have a go at making some nice food type gifts, such as sweets, biscuits, pickles, jams, jellies for food lovers.  There's loads of recipes out there, so why not give some simple ones a try.  Who doesn't like receiving a food gift that's been made especially for them with love by a friend or family member? You can tailor the gift to the person you are giving it to, such as chocolate truffles for the chocoholic, or a nice chutney for the cheese lover and so on. 

If you are artistically inclined you could produce a piece of art for a friend or family member to hang in their home.  You don't have to be Michelangelo, most people can produce something interesting if they try.  Put in into a second hand frame and you've a gift that is thoughtful and personal.  Children's Art makes a great gift for God parents, Grandparents, Friends.

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You could knit or crochet a cap or scarf using natural fibres such as wool, or bamboo, that will biodegrade after they've reached the end of their lives. Or if you're handy with a sewing machine or needle you could make a bag, a toy, place mats using fabric you have at home, or by re-purposing clothing you already have. 

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You could upcycle something as a gift.  An old piece of furniture can be given a new lease of life with a lick of chalk paint, and might just be the perfect gift for someone starting out in a new home. 


You could dry some herbs you've grown yourself or bought in the supermarket, and package them in reused jars for use as herbal teas. Add a pretty ribbon or label and you have a lovely gift.

You could give the gift of a productive vegetable garden by giving seeds that can be started in early Spring next year.  A lot of people have started to grow some of their food at home this year, and there is nothing more satisfying than putting food on the table that you grew yourself.  The gift of salad mixes, or garden vegetables will be welcomed by any gardening enthusiast. 

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You could give flower seeds that would encourage and support pollinators.  Our pollinators are under pressure and are struggling to survive in some cases, so we should all be doing more when it comes to providing food and habitat wherever we can.  Flowers that have an open flower type, allow ease of pollen collection and will be of great benefit to many species under threat, as well as enhancing your surroundings too.

You could support local artists or crafts people who are struggling in these difficult times to make a living with craft fairs cancelled.  There are so many creative people out there who deserve our support, such as soap makers, candle makers, wood workers, basket makers, potters, painters, print makers, writers, poets, musicians etc.  

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You could look online for second hand items or good quality reused items that would be welcomed as gifts by those who appreciate quality or vintage itmes.  You will be extending the useful life of an object or item,  and reducing the energy needed to produce new products.  

You could set a reasonable limit on what you were going to spend on holiday purchases, and stick to that amount. By including all the family in that decision and saying why you are doing this, everyone will be on board and you will still be able to have a great time without creating debt and stress on you and the planet down the line.  

You could look at having a more modest holiday where the emphasis was on being with loved ones, being together and enjoying a cosy simpler Christmas this year, using what you have and making the most of good local seasonal ingredients.  

You could support local small scale farmers and producers who take care in the production of food products and will deliver to you direct from their farms.  

You could wrap gifts in cotton tea towels, or brown paper, or reused wrapping paper, with string, wool or natural fibres, rather than buying plastic coated wrapping paper that ends up in landfill or incinerators.

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You could reuse the decorations you have stored from previous years instead of buying more plastic to add to the landfill in the New Year.  It's also possible to make natural decorations out of pine cones, evergreen plants such as holly and so on.  You can also choose LED fairy lights reducing your energy usage and your bills at the same time. 

It's very common for people to go overboard when buying their groceries for the holiday period.  They are afraid they'll not have enough for guests, but you will save money and resources by planning your main Christmas meals so that you are not buying an excess of food. This will reduce your food waste over the holiday season. 

You could spend time in nature and appreciate the beauty there instead of shopping like a crazy person. By doing this you will save money and keep your stress levels down at at time of year that can be a stress-fest for people. 

If you put your mind to it you could come up with lots of ways to save money and help the planet this Christmas,while still having a celebratory happy Christmas.