Tis the season of bulging stockings and empty wallets. Abundance in consumerism but a depleted earth. Admist a surplus of materialism, what are we truly giving? Where is our planet, the giver of all things, falling amongst the intricate wrapping and shiny bows? With financial stress and strains, it is no wonder so many have found the Bah-Humbug of Embinesor Scrooge. Perhaps, just like our friend, all we need to do is realise that the future does not have to be as we see it now if only we wake up and make a change.
Now before we begin, let me assure you, I am an absolute christmas fanatic and in no way am I saying that gift giving is wrong. It is a wonderful thing when it comes from a loving place, in moderation and done right, can give back to the environment too. Thats where I see us heading too in the furture; a greener, more sustainble, balanced celebration with less gifts and more presence.
Christmas is a time of giving. YES! But we’ve come to a shift. A shift from giving away our money, our sanity, and our planet’s natural resources to giving back to the environment instead. Are you ready for a green christmas?! The true spirit of Christmas, afterall, lies beneath the wrappings and gift bows and even, dare I say it, the feast of festive food! The most meaningful part of it all is family coming together for the gift of unity. Yes, that gift. The gift that cannot be manufactured, shipped across seas and stamped with a price tag.
FACT: Our world cannot sustain Christmas as it is now and we are the ones who are going to change that!
Unlike Scrooge, without a grim attired spirit to directly show us our fates to come, we can turn a blind eye to buying so many things, especially when it’s a cultural tradition. In psychology we often relate this to a phenomena known as cognitive dissonance. This occurs when our belief systems do not match up with our realities. We understand that Christmas is harmful for the earth yet our behaviours are in complete contradiction to this. What do we do? As humans, we strive to maintain balance between our beliefs and realities and so we have a choice. We can either:
- A) Become a Krank (from Christmas with the Kranks) and decide to opt out of Christmas altogether
- B) celebrate Christmas in an actively sustainable, unconventional way
- C) not pay attention to our environmental impact and put more mental focus on the “stuff” and gift giving and wrapping
When we feel overwhelmed or that there is little we can do, we naturally revert to the option of least resistance. In this case, likely option C, the one we are often accustomed to. But that isn’t to say that just like our dear Scrooge we can’t turn this around, we can! All we need to do is wake up.
The STATutory Holidaze
According to stats Canada’s annual Christmas by the Numbers feature for 2012:
- 230.2 million – value of christmas decorations imported to Canada (the majority coming from… you guessed it, China)
- 4.4 Billion – the value of food and drink purchased
- Us Canadians happen to be one of the highest ranking in food waste
- $548.9 million — The value of televisions and audio and video equipment purchased in Canada in December 2012. (just Tvs, audio and video equipment alone).
The Story of Stuff
First things first; in waking ourselves up, we need to understand why we want to do it. Just as gripping as a Christmas carol, the story of stuff is a beautifully illustrated representation of the past, present and future of our consumerist economy. We can begin this Christmas to head towards a better system, a more sustainable, holistic system that gives to everyone, including our earth and fellow inhabitants. Afterall, where are Santa and his reindeer going to live when they can no longer call a melted North Pole home?
This is an absolute must watch video that’s cute, fun and extremely informative!
So now that we’re a little more informed, what do we do about this? That’s truly the big ticket item here after all. Here are a few tips to reduce our cognitive dissonance:
1. One foot in front of the other
Just as I recommend for your diet, take on one thing at a time. When we become overwhelmed, we feel a lack of control on our situation and will often revert back to our old habits, these are safe, these we know. Creating new habits takes time. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you are well on your way to a greener Christmas!
2. Make the chosen path more valuable and enjoyable
This is all about shifting our focus. Think of how amazing it feels to know that you are celebrating Christmas while doing good for the earth!
3. Consistent Beliefs
Become conscious, from here on out, with what you are purchasing. Lets keep in mind what we need instead of want, what we can give instead of get and what will benefit us and our earth for future generations to come. Is it ethical, sustainable, or is there a better choice? Make the best choices you can. Now that your actions are in line with your beliefs, you won’t experience that discomforting dissonance.
These are just a few tips (with more specific ones to come) to get you moving towards greener, more sustainable Christmases to come! We want the future glowing as bright as the energy efficient Christmas lights that are used sparingly around your festive home!
With loving steps to a greener future,