Christmas, the most wonderful season of the year, is just around the corner.
It’s the season where we are surrounded by excitement and the spirit of gifting.
Yet, another unusual year has gone by – once again, businesses and individuals alike had to face significant changes in every aspect of their routine, their work arrangements, their relationships and even, their relationship with consumerism.
Out there, there’s an underlying feeling that we need to start over.
We want to start the new year in a better place.
Hope is a verb.
Despite the financial challenges this year has brought with it, despite the fear and the uncertainty, people have been showing hope through their Christmas shopping.
The pandemic has certainly accelerated some trends which were already appearing little by little in people’s behaviours and their consumption habits.
We are ready to choose to support businesses that align with our values.
So, what can you do to be more conscious this Christmas?
- Choose to buy more sustainable gifts from local eco-friendly businesses to give both your loved ones and the planet a little more love
- Rather than using plastic bows and ribbons to decorate your gifts, how about a freshly picked spring of holly or rosemary?
- Avoid plastic wreaths, DIY your own from fallen twigs, pine cones and greenery from your garden or support a local florist instead
- Work on a plan of how much food you actually need to buy, to avoid unnecessary waste. If you do find yourself with leftovers, share them with neighbours and friends or freeze them for one of those days you don’t feel like cooking
- Choose decorations that will last a lifetime, such as ones that are made from recycled wood, fabric and glass, rather than plastic or PVC
- When Christmas shopping (and shopping in general!), take reusable bags with you and avoid receipts, if you can
- Choose locally made soy or beeswax candles, opposed to paraffin-based candles
- Invest a reusable advent calendar and fill it with your own treats each year
- Refrain from using disposable cutlery and crockery when hosting
- Give gifts that are designed to last; the Guaranteed Irish Gift Guide showcases businesses selling products that will last a lifetime and won’t be on landfill sites in the following months!
And lastly, remember – the most precious gift you can give to someone is the gift of time.
Take the opportunity to create a new family tradition; it’s such a great way to bring the family together during the festive season. For example, making a gingerbread house and baking gingerbread cookies or organise a Christmas movie night in!
Ultimately, the season isn't about the perfect present, the perfect decoration or the perfect meal. It's about celebrating, spending time with your loved ones, taking care of yourself and focusing on what's important in your life.
Just as was seen post-wars, I believe that the post-pandemic world will bring with it an evolution in which people will be more aware of the changes we need to make to our lifestyles, our behaviours and our consumption in order to be better humans.
So let’s start by turning our Christmas Wishlist green, supporting local brands that are doing their bit for our community and for our planet.
Here’s to better days that are coming. Merry Christmas, enjoy this one, you deserve it after a strange year!
Sustainability Strategist, writer and speaker