The Truth about the Christmas Craze
It’s November. The month before the chaos rises for the joyous few days we get to spend with our loved ones (hopefully). Christmas is the time of year that consumerism peaks and sustainability struggles to remain a priority. But, what are the major contributing factors?
Most things in our world are packaged in plastic. It’s the unfortunate consequence of our peace of mind that something is new, sterile or in perfect condition. Everything from the food we’ll consume, individual Christmas decorations and the presents that will come, will have some kind of plastic surrounding them.
‘More than 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be binned on Christmas Day.’ (The Independent, 2019)
The only way to reduce this and make a difference is by leading by example. By introducing family and friends to products that aren’t bought in plastic or by gifting alternatives like subscriptions, experiences or even buying second hand.
Wrapping Paper and Cards
Many cards and wrapping paper are unrecyclable because of their laminated, glitter or glossy textures. If we don’t pre-think what we purchase and get dazzled by the glam, an unnecessary amount of paper and card ends up in landfill.
‘In the UK we produce enough waste card at Christmas to wrap Big Ben almost 260,000 times.’ (Good Housekeeping, 2020)
To reduce the amount of waste reaching landfill, we have the options of purchasing paper and cards that can be recycled, versions that are already made out of recycled materials and even reusable wrap or plantable cards. If the idea of peeling leftover sticky tape for recycling doesn’t feel you with Christmas joy, there is also tape that is paper based and can be recycled just as easily. The easy rule is, if you can crumple a piece of wrapping in your hand and it doesn’t unfold when you open your hand, it’s all good to go in the recycling!
The Unwanted Gifts
An estimated £5 billion is spent every year on unwanted gifts. Although the joker of the family might be inclined to do it on purpose, unwanted gifts are an unsustainable habit where they either end up in the bin or being kept under the bed for many years to come.
‘Clothing and accessories topped the list of most unwanted gifts (25.03%), followed by cosmetics and fragrances (17.63%), household items (11.49%), food and/or drink (8.07%), literature (7.47%), music (6.47%), and technology (5.24%)’ (Finder, 2020)
Most unwanted gifts are received from friends, but the work’s secret Santa also plays a large role. Christmas is about being with one another and gifting shouldn’t have to be a priority. There's no denying that seeing the glee in a loved one's face when they open something they wanted isn’t a true blessing, but if there’s a way around giving something unwanted, we must try! To have a more sustainable Christmas this year we need to consider what the items we’re gifting are, what their carbon footprint is and how our recipient will use the gift. With marketing professionals pushing products on us over the next few months through various advertising it’s important that we keep our thoughts of sustainability and reducing waste as the priority for this season.