For hundreds of years the celebration of Christmas has encouraged a tradition of giving, the exchanging of gifts amongst friends and family. First signs in history of this seasonal activity were actually from a Bishop living in Turkey over a thousand years ago known as St Nicholas who would give gifts to the orphaned children and homeless that lived nearby. This then later led to the modern day tradition of which we now know as Father Christmas, other aliases included Santa Claus and the ancient St Nicholas.
The idea of giving for Christmas has created a multimillion dollar industry, where retailers can expect consumers to pay for the latest thing in hopes of making their loved ones happy. On average people spend approximately 700 dollars a year on gifts for family and friends. A country like America would be looking at over 500 billion dollars in retail sales during the Christmas period alone.
Now this shows that the people of the World are giving, but what affect do this vast generosity have on our planet. To accommodate the influx in consumerisms manufacturers must meet the demand, with many items being mass produced, at large quantities. Using harmful methods to create items from materials that can have lasting effects on our environment.
Some of these items maybe treasured for years to come, however the reality of the situation is that over 28% of the gifts received are returned. Or the alternative being maybe worse where the latest action hero figurine made from long lasting plastic will be unpopular within a few months, and need to be replaced by a new one to keep up with the trends.
Retailers and the media have over the years made it difficult to not need or want the latest products on the market. Consumers led to believe they need to own an item, even if the one they had before was ideal for the job. Reality being that we live in an age where many products are designed not to last, so each year you feel you need the new iPhone with the not so latest upgrade.
So on top of purchasing many products that you probably never needed or that only gave you joy for a few months. The event of Christmas leads to so many other wasteful products, whether that be the endless amounts of wrapping paper thrown out after the presents are revealed, or the festive decorations that fall apart after a couple of seasons.
108 Million Roles of wrapping paper and almost 200 million batteries, get disposed of during the Christmas period and end up in landfills. So this season of giving does result in a high level of waste, and despite the act of giving being a selfless act. The impact it has on the environment is very much a selfish act by humans.
However it doesn’t always need to be so, as over recent years a lot have become more conscious of the waste created and started using alternatives to the necessary things needed for the festive season. For example using plain paper wrapping, which can be easily recycled, instead of the colourful foil covered non-recyclable traditional wrap, and more people are trying rechargeable batteries, which have a longer life span than the alkaline commercial kind.
Along with being more consumer conscious and purchasing sustainable products instead of short lived items, and even maybe looking at buying used items that still have all the great qualities of new ones. The options are out there to make an impact over Christmas, although maybe changing the lives of others as St Nicholas did but in a more positive way. By reducing what is thrown away we save the lives of many on the planet, directly or indirectly.
Christmas a time for giving…………………………..