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Week 33: Rethink Consumerism

by Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood, 52 Weeks of Climate Action

December has arrived with a vengeance! As the holidays approach, it’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy of buying, cooking, eating, repeat. So, this month, we’re looking at ways we can rethink December. This pandemic has required us to do a lot of creative thinking this year, and this holiday will be like no other. Stuff has become an overwhelming problem. As we’ve said before, everything you own was made somewhere, by someone. It requires a massive amount of energy to produce. And when you’re done with it, most of it goes to landfill, requiring more energy to dispose of it and polluting our environment. If you want an eye-opener, consider this Marketplace expose on Amazon returns. Spoiler alert - most go to landfill. Yeah. All that new stuff. Landfill. Gives new meaning to the term “easy returns”. No wonder they’re so easy. Here’s another on how consumerism causes climate chaos, by making us believe that in order to find happiness, we need to buy stuff, and we keep on doing it, even though it doesn’t (and can’t possibly) work.

Challenge 33: Rethink how you gift-give.

This week, notice where regularly purchased items come from, and buy as close to home as possible. There are so many more options than ordering a cartful, or doing your own version of Supermarket Sweep. I’m not sure when we got the idea that gift-giving had to be a monumental experience. The amount you spend does not indicate your level of care for someone. Cars for Christmas? Thousand dollar phones? Seriously? My grandma talked about how getting an orange was a big deal! However, have no fear! We are here to help you get creative with your gift-giving. Here are some tried and true tips to help you navigate a pandemic Christmas.

  • Buy less. Kind of a no-brainer, but, you don’t need to buy a houseful of gifts. Consider the Four Gift Rule for your kids: “something to wear, something to read, something you want, and something you need”. No mountain of toys required. There. You’re done.

  • Give experiences. Instead of stuff, consider things you can do together (this summer, when we’re pandemic free!). Choose an experience you know they’ll enjoy, like a movie night, theatre tickets, sporting event, ski pass, or dinner together.

  • Buy local. This isn’t the last time you’ll hear this from us! Even more important this year when many local shops are struggling to make up for pandemic slow downs.

  • Re-gift. Get over the idea that you have to hold on to things you truly don’t want, or like, or need. One person’s trash is another’s treasure.

  • Hand down heirlooms. Give away special items to people while you’re still around to see the joy they’ll bring. It does you no good sitting in a cupboard unappreciated.

  • Buy used goods from online sources, or thrift shops. There is an abundance of great sites and shops you can troll to find gently used items perfect for gifting!

  • Make things. Jam, cookies, even fruitcake. If you’re crafty, knit or crochet something special. Paint. Draw. Make decorations. They don’t have to be perfect. A homemade gift can be much more memorable. A few years ago I made hats for everyone, which ended up being huge! Now, every Christmas, my family wears their enormous hats and we all get a laugh!

This year, focus on what’s important instead of grabbing a glass of wine and making a date with Amazon. In this season of giving, make it a priority to give with your heart before giving with your wallet. Giving doesn’t necessarily mean shopping. Time and attention are much more appreciated, and a gift can’t replace a phone call to say you miss someone, or a handwritten card in the mail. Don’t forget to give generously to people who really need it. Our food banks, charities and local organizations are all suffering, and there are more people in need than ever before. Consider giving one less gift to everyone on your list, and pooling that money as a donation to a local group who really needs it. You don’t need to buy something to show someone that you care. I know there are many of us who would much prefer a return to hugs, handshakes, and gathering together over anything you could buy this year. Yours in Sustainability, Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood 52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

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