As a kid, the excitement of running down the stairs with my siblings early Christmas morning to find a mountain of gifts beneath the tree was everything — especially ripping open the “big one”!
Twenty some years later, my own children found themselves enjoying the same tradition. We would spend thousands of dollars, wrap late into the night, and then watch as they feverishly tore through the gift wrap, sometimes not even remembering who the gift was from. Toys would get played with once or twice, or maybe even break a few months later, and find their way to the recycle bin or garbage can.
We found ourselves wondering why the heck we needed to indulge in so many materialistic things over the holidays. It was just too much – even refusing to invest in junky plastic toys.
Luckily, that era is behind us. Now my teens ask for family traditions, festive treats, and practical gifts like cosmetics and clothing. They also look forward to some serious down time without school work! But, despite the shift in wanting experiences over unnecessary stuff, Christmas is still very wasteful.
Consumerism hijacked the spirit of Christmas
Convenience, desire, and heavy-handed marketing encourages us all to partake in the shiny appeal of Christmas consumerism, complete with financial strain and a tonne of stress. And then there’s all the waste…
According to Zero Waste Canada:
- Within 6 months, 99% of what the average person buys will be discarded.
- 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated from gift wrapping and shopping bags in Canada each year.
- Household waste can increase more than 25% during the holiday season.
- Canadians use 6 million rolls of tape to wrap up Christmas presents every year.
So, if you’re looking to change your materialistic ways this holiday season, here are five easy ways to reduce waste and rejoice in the beauty of the season.
Five ways to be less materialistic at Christmas
1 Make gifts.
Gifting homemade cookies, holiday cards, and consumable baskets filled with edible local items like coffee, chocolate, cheese, and meat are great ways to spread holiday cheer to friends, family, and neighbours.
2 Gift experiences, not things.
Create memories that last and give the gift of music lessons, cooking classes, summer camp, sporting tickets, movie tickets, museum passes, trips etc.
3 Give less.
When buying presents, choose quality over quantity. Placing the focus on one quality gift, rather than buying a bunch of junk helps alleviate the amount of waste in our landfills and clutter in our homes. Plus, a gift given with meaning is always well received — even if you end up giving cash that goes towards something big.
Donating money or time to a charity is a great way to reduce waste AND help create positive change in your community. It’s also a great way to get the next generation into the habit of looking outward.
5 Focus on family.
It’s the perfect time of year to set traditions. Whether you’re sharing childhood traditions or creating new ones with your own kids, it’s a great way to create memories that last a lifetime (and even get passed down the line).
Whatever you choose to give, get creative with the packaging. The holiday season is a great time to give reusable containers instead of single-use plastic containers and opt for paper or compostable wrapping rather than the shiny, glittery stuff that can’t go anywhere but the trash.
When it’s all said and done, the best part of the holidays are almost always the memories: games around the dining table, books read by the fire, long walks with loved ones, and food prepared with love.
And, you never know, but avoiding the material pitfalls of the holiday season may just make this year the best Christmas yet. For you. For them. For the planet.
But, hey, if you need a great gift for your loved ones, one of our Starter Boxes might just do the trick!
Photo credit: Diette Henderson via Unsplash