How to be a Compassionate Consumer this Christmas
Christmas is in the air but with news from COP26 also fresh our minds how can we be more considerate towards the planet this yuletide season?
As much as Christmas is a time for joy, festivities and time spent with loved ones it is also a time of huge consumerism. Whilst this increased spending is much needed for many businesses who rely on the festive finances to kept them afloat for the rest of the year, the over-consumption of many items does come at a high cost for the environment. We all heard from Biden, Obama, Boris Johnson, amongst other world leaders who took to the global stage in Glasgow last month, about the need to reduce our carbon footprint in order to prevent further global warming. As we look towards these next few weeks of frenzy how can we also look at our spending patterns and how can we all make a difference?
A recent survey from UK supermarket giant Tesco revealed that over one-third (36%) of the nation plans to be more sustainable over this year’s festive period, with nearly half (49%) claiming that the environmental impact of what they buy will influence their shopping decisions this Christmas. With these positive stats ringing festive bells in our ears here is ACTAsia’s guide to joining the compassionate Christmas revolution.
Join the #shoplocal movement. Not only will you be supporting local businesses that are much in need of your Christmas cash but you will also be helping to the reduce carbon footprint. Locally sourced products travel less meaning less carbon dioxide emissions. The Small Business Saturday initiative takes place on 4th December in the UK and promotes local business. https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com. Similar local shopping initiatives also take place in USA, Australia and across Europe.
Check about packaging
Try to reduce plastic consumption with over wrapped goods. This applies to gifts as well as everyday items such as fruit and vegetables. Eschew the plastic packaging and buy items loose – or even better go to a local market with your own shopping bag and support stall holders.
As tempting as it is to buy cheap festive goodies think sustainably and buy products that have been responsibly sourced. Look out for Fair Trade & Cruelty Free logos. Also keep your eyes peeled for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. This covers a wide range of products, from wooden furniture to paper and toilet rolls.
Consider the carbon footprint of your festive food and consider making some positive swaps for plant-based alternatives. ACTAsia recently wrote a blog with top tips as to how to eat more sustainably https://www.actasia.org/news/pei-sus-blog/how-can-we-easily-eat-more-sustainably/ and the fantastic health benefits of a plant based delicious diet.
Luxury Christmas Item?
If you have a special person on your shopping list and are considering a luxury item, be sure to avoid fur. Whether it is a simple fur trim or a full-blown coat, fur is not only unethical but fur farming is also is responsible for considerable environmental damage. Read our news item here to find our more. https://www.actasia.org/news/cop26-fur-farming-is-impacting-climate-change/
Gift with a personal touch
Upcycle a piece of furniture or homeware item to give it a personal touch. Making something for someone is the ultimate gift as it demonstrates time, effort and a real personal touch. Or think about hunting down unique pre-loved items from charity shops.
Gift joy to others
The pandemic has made many people more aware of wider social issues and the needs of charities in their local communities and further afield. Tesco’s research found that amongst 55-74-year-olds, just under a third (33%) plan to donate money to a charity this year. And one in 10 (11%) of 18-34-year-olds say they would prefer charity donations as a more sustainable Christmas gift.
ACTAsia’s Giving Tuesday appeal this year has for called for donations to help provide ‘Caring for Life’ training to 100 teachers in China. The appeal hopes to empower teachers to inspire and engage hundreds of children to be kind to each other, to animals and help them take responsibility for the natural world. The money will enable teachers to reach hundreds of children to teach them about compassion and respect towards animals, the environment and each other.
£15 = A gift of £15 could provide Caring for Life lessons for one child, teaching empathy and nurturing them to respect all living creatures on our planet.
£40 = A gift of £40 could provide all the dynamic Caring for Life teaching resources, including lesson plans, online and digital support, videos and interactive support.
£75 = A gift of £75 could recruit and train a teacher to give inspirational Caring for Life lessons, to produce well-rounded, responsible and happy children.
Consider the real Christmas message
Christmas – or any other national or religious holiday – is about spending precious time with loved ones, reconnecting and appreciating the simple things in life. We don’t need to turn into crazed consumers to have a fabulous festive time!