It’s that time of year again. The holiday season has arrived in full force, bombarding us with messages of “buy this” and “buy that“ in order to ensure happiness for us, our families, friends and work-mates. That message, however, seemed out of focus as we frantically trample the holiday spirit in our pursuit of discounted products. Onlookers have cause to wonder: Does the year-end frenzy of consumerism really bring happiness? We don’t think so.
Our consumer choices this season will impact not only us but people and environments the world over. So, as both consumerism and feelings of compassion and goodwill reach their yearly peaks, here are a few thoughts we wanted to share with you in the true spirit of the season:
Consider the impact of your purchases on people and the environment.
In a world of over 7 Billion people, it is estimated that only 1.4 billion people could sustainably consume like they do in the United States. In order for all the world’s citizens to live this way, we would need 4 planets! Obviously, this is not possible. Make sure that whatever you buy was produced responsibly and is safe for user and environment alike.
Consumer choices also come with a social impact, as seen in the devastating Joe Fresh factory collapse in Bangladesh earlier this year. Support companies that provide fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmental protection.
Consider what you are giving and why.
Why do most of us feel compelled to provide our friends and family with commercial gifts to show them we care? Unfortunately, this good intention can lead to last minute, less-than-thoughtful purchases for the sake of loved-ones having something to unwrap. As a result, millions of people in North America receive gifts they don’t want. According to one study, around 50 percent of our Christmas gifts are dumped within a year, generating tons and tons of unnecessary waste.
So instead of rushing into Walmart on your way to your annual family party, why not choose a gift that truly says you care such as:
– Gifts of Time- certificates entitling the recipient to fun activities, home-made meals, or help with household chores or errands.
– Gifts Made with Love- baked goods, preserves, teas, spice mixtures, candles, bath salts, terrariums etc.
– Up-cycled Gifts- A quick search on sites like Pinterest will give you dozens of options!
– “Greener” Gifts– Buying items that are locally made, recycled or up-cycled, choosing electronics that are battery free or perhaps native plants for the garden
-Donations– So many wonderful organizations doing great work for people in need, animals, and the environment need your support.
A note on wrapping paper: Many people recycle their wrapping paper. That’s a good start, but the production and transport of wrapping paper requires water, trees, and energy and some of the paper still ends up in the garbage. Try wrapping presents in reusable materials or go with a simple bow.
Consumerism is addictive, and many of us fall victim to messages that define our value by what we own. Nonsense! We could easily learn to buy used, trade, and live with less. At the very least we need to buy with a conscience about how the production and disposal of products affects other people and the environment.
So when it comes to drafting your New Year’s resolutions, along with making plans for increased fitness and family time, remember our responsibilities to other people, nature, and future generations. That may do more for you and friends and family than all the cheap electronics and disposable junk we have been indoctrinated to believe will make us happy.
Wishing everyone a great winter holiday and a happy and healthy New Year.