The true meaning of Christmas has been lost. It has now become an excuse to over indulge for a whole month at the expense of our own health and the health of the planet.
But, maybe this year we say no. We don’t let the million-pound marketing campaigns persuade us into depleting our bank balances, widening our waistlines and destroying the planet.
Let’s take a second to think about how much you singularly consume during December. The food, decorations, gifts, packaging and alcohol, and then multiply that by 66 million. That’s a giant heap right? for just the UK alone. Do we really need the heap to be this big, just to enjoy Christmas?
Who’s to blame?
How much of this Christmas consumption is our fault? The way our economic system is designed – continuous growth in an upward trajectory – means consumption is promoted. The barrage of advertising and marketing campaigns, that sometimes begin as early as September, persuade us that we need to gift more, eat more, go bigger and better than last year. That ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ should surely be outdated by now, yet we still conform.
Despite the growing number of families that mount up a ‘Christmas debt’ and the increasing awareness of our planetary destruction, the excessive indulgence continues.
However, it is not just advertising that is facilitating this. The short-term pleasures of shopping, eating and drinking in excess, may be a form of escapism from the longer-term anxieties that much of the western world is facing.
Today’s materialism is a desperate attempt to escape the existential problems and stresses of the modern world. Ironic, that these materialistic and consuming behaviour patterns, further exacerbates the problems that causes these stresses we are all trying to escape! We need to break this circle, and we need to do it soon.
So, we are trapped in a capitalist cage of consumption, but how do we get out?
I’m not asking you to dismantle the capitalist system (although if you have any ideas please do get in touch), we just need to make more conscious decisions.
Although we need large systematic change, this starts at the bottom, with us, the individuals; our habits and our decisions.
A Conscious Christmas
Let’s bring this back to Christmas. I’m not going full-on scrooge and saying ‘let’s cancel Christmas!’, rather I’m urging you to be more mindful this Christmas.
Do you really need 4 different types of meat for your Christmas dinner?
Will great aunt Gladys really use that novelty wine glass shaped like a turkey?
Will the absence of Christmas crackers really ruin the whole Christmas vibe?
Think about what you really value this Christmas and sculpt your decisions around this.
When you google Christmas consumption, you are greeted by hundreds of posts and articles on how to have a sustainable Christmas, so I am not going to repeat it all here. Anyway, we know all this right? We know that we should eat less, drink a little steadier, buy less crap and reduce our spending. We just need to start.
So, this year see how many small changes or swaps you can make.
Shop local, shop second hand, shop handmade…even better, handmake the gift yourself! Gift experiences, gift skills, gift time.
Think a little deeper about your food choices. Your health and the planet will thank you for this.
Model sustainable behaviour for your children and relatives. Start them off on the right foot, so change isn’t necessary for them in the future. Because change is inevitable.
I know it’s easy to reach for the mouse and to start scrolling amazon, with its free delivery, astoundingly low prices and easy to access family wish lists. And you wonder how Bezos has so much power!?
Try and resist. Think personal, think local, think eco. Don’t let the campaigns win.
Scale back, make better choices and have a healthier attitude.
Let’s be the catalyst for change. After all, Christmas is a time for miracles isn’t it?