The sad truth about Christmas
– you probably are a part of this mechanism.
What do you see when you think about Christmas? Probably Christmas tree, full of scarlet red and gold ornaments, beautifully decorated house with Christmas lights. Plastic angels and reindeers on your windowsill. Artificial snow. Special candles, special china, special blankets, socks and pajamas. Fridge packed with great food. Hot chocolate made in Christmas mug. Tons of sweets. Many-hours-of-making-worth food which is way too much for a standard family to eat – but at least you have delicious specials to choose from. And the starring guest – presents. Those good, those bad and those ugly. Some of them will never be used. Wrapped in beautiful paper and sparkling ribbons.
All looks lovely and cosy. We all love Christmas time for its essentials like those things we surround ourselves.
Would Christmas still be as enjoyable without the Things? If we’d focus more on the gatherings with family and friends and less on the material side, would that time be as special for us as it is now? Would modest Christmas Eve supper be just as important as the fancy one?
Why do we ask so many difficult questions?
Because we want to draw your attention to something very important. And we hope you will think it through and share that knowledge with your friends.
Christmas time became the season of buying, eating and wasting.
All the gifts and decorations are not made by elves on the North Pole and the consumption is way higher than it needs to be. Did you know that Chinese village Yiwu produces 60% of worlds Christmas decorations in 600 factories? (source: theguardian.com)
As much as we love Christmas for its meaning and for the good food and family visits, we have to admit the sad truth.
According to use-less-stuff.com, between the Thanksgiving and the New Year’s eve, Americans produce 25% more trash than during any other time of the year. At first we buy the food. We start it long before the official shopping, as soon as we’ll see the special offer in Christmas packaging in the stores. We don’t have a plan for the menu yet so we buy pretty much anything that looks tempting. Then, when we actually have our Christmas menu planned, we have to buy more food because not everything that we already bought is appropriate, so we finally gather much more than we need.
As soon as we start cooking for Christmas, we get very protective of our food and start the saving mode: “don’t eat this, it’s for Christmas”. We tend to change our mind when the Christmas comes and we start repeating “Have more or it’s going to waste”. But it’s usually too late. We eat a lot during the Christmas time, but still, it’s not as much as it had been prepared.
Shopping for food like mad and planning family dinners like we’d be starving all the year make us buy too much and throw out a lot of food.
There aren’t many moments that let us feel the Christmas atmosphere like smelling the Christmas tree and turning colorful Christmas lights on. And decorating with the artificial snow. And hanging big socks for presents, near the fireplace. Plus, having wooden reindeers with sleigh on the windowsill and all kinds of candles and special decorations all over the house. Basically cluttering our house for two weeks with unnecessary stuff with no functions.
We don’t want you to misunderstand us here. There is nothing wrong at decorating the house for this time of the year. However, let’s be honest and admit: do you always remember what decorations you already have before you buy another? Do you buy decorations you want and need or those that will spontaneously steal your heart at the store? Does it happen that you buy new decorations, even though you still have a lot of old ones and you finally throw out Christmas decorations that are still in perfectly good condition?
The Christmas industry, worth several billion dollars annually in the USA only is made from all those little purchases. With every unnecessary purchase, we contribute to the functioning of big factories, to the production on plastic, to the air pollution and to the production of waste.
When we make the Christmas season pleasant for us, let’s stay smart and respect the Mother Nature. Let’s be less plastic and more eco. Don’t stop yourself from buying things that will make you happy, just think twice before going mad during this huge shopping season. We can still enjoy Christmas when we’ll be more responsible towards our primary home – the Earth.
Packing gifts for our loved ones can be a very enjoyable moment. Spending time on preparing something for them is a way of showing our engagement and respect we feel towards them. But let’s face it: we buy paper and ribbon only for the several seconds of unpacking. Then it’s thrown out. Have that on mind for this season and next time buy biodegradable and recycled packing paper. Use it economically. One ribbon is enough, you don’t have to attach any extra bows, cards and labels. The purpose of packing presents is to hide what’s inside and make it a surprise and to give it the elegant, respectful form. Less is more, or at least less is enough.
Try to remember, how many unsolicited gifts you threw away? I can assure you that if you’ve ever received a gift you didn’t know what to do with, you also gave such present. Of course, sometimes it’s not easy to choose a good present, but the least we can do is to try and think of something practical and universal. Avoid purchasing things that have to match the receiver’s taste, like CDs, clothes, jewelry or perfumes. Also not the best idea is to buy decorations for home.
A good way of choosing presents is to go for experiences, not for things.
Try to think of tickets and vouchers for interesting activities: theme parks, movie theatres, extreme sports, original hotels, spa centers, massages, restaurants or places of amusement like laser tag or escape rooms.
Such gifts always give a lot of fun and most people will enjoy them. And even if they won’t – such present won’t be eventually thrown away, making the amount of the waste in the world unnecessary grow, because it’s virtual.
During the Christmas season we waste not only food and energy. “Of an estimated $70 billion Americans spend on holiday gift-giving, $14 billion is wasted.” (source: dailymail.co.uk)
Fortunately, there are many ways how to say eco during this season of buying and wasting, but that’s another time. Stay tuned!
Remember to share this message with your friends and show how crucial the Christmas season is to make a difference in our behaviour!