Christmas Gifts in a Time of Environmental Crisis
The Christmas season is upon us once more. Serene snowfalls, joyful music, and uplifting movies are back, alongside the stress of your Christmas shopping list. This is exacerbated by the growing awareness of the climate crisis. The same endless consumption embodied by Christmas commercialism is a major driver of the destruction of our planet. How do we enjoy and partake in the holiday season without a heavy conscience? There is hope. Let us take a look at a growing number of options that allow you to simultaneously enjoy the holidays and reduce your impact on the climate and environment.
Consumerism leads to excess waste, from countless returned goods to nesting dolls of plastic casings and covers. You can help combat this by buying no objects at all. Consider gifts that are instead either homemade or focus on experiences. When you reflect on gifts you have received over the years, the highly personalized ones often endure in our memories much longer than the flashy expensive toys that provided an initial burst of excitement. A collection of pictures and videos, a personalized book, or original song can speak volumes. Shared experiences at a concert, museum, or animal sanctuary are unforgettable.
Purchased goods do not necessarily cause significant harm to the planet. Consider purchasing items that are second-hand, have a low carbon footprint, or are reusable. There are more and more household items and kitchenware being sold that can be used again and again. Many of these are everyday items of great practical value and will be a constant reminder of your relationship with the person. Another option is to look at gently used goods. As people try to live greener lives in an increasingly unaffordable world, the stigma associated with used products is eroding. It is a great way to give further life to an item that a friend or loved one can benefit from.
You may still be cynical about engaging in the tradition of gift-giving. For many, it feels shallow and it is frustratingly difficult to avoid a negative environmental impact. If you and your friends and loved ones feel similar, consider giving the gift of charity. CanadaHelps.org has a great varied list of different charities, such as protecting wetlands and endangered species. You can donate to charities in honour of a special someone. This is a great way to take a positive spin on gifts that will help raise awareness of important issues for you and those on your gift-giving list.
The messages of hope and love often conflict with the consumerism of each hectic Christmas. The holiday season does not have to be stressful and hypocritical. Focus instead on what you can do to better the lives of your loved ones and the world around you. Instead of endless piles of wrapping paper and plastic going into the garbage, consider homemade gifts or once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Give greater life to products with reusable or recycled goods. Explore different charities for which your dollars will make a lifesaving difference around the globe. There are many ways to partake in the holidays and stay true to its themes of family, love, and peace. You will feel good about it. Your friends and family will feel loved and appreciated. Most importantly, you will make a small but important contribution in the battle to save the Earth.
Canada Helps. “Gift Guide.” https://www.canadahelps.org/en/gift-guide/
Feltman, Rachel. “Gifts to save the planet.” Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/best-eco-friendly-gifts/
Utterdahl, Evelina. “Sustainable Christmas Gifts.” Earth Wanderess. http://www.earthwanderess.com/sustainable-christmas-gift-ideas/