Consumerism vs. Conscience

With Christmas just around the corner I find more and more of my lunch breaks are being squandered with the task of shopping. Apparently I’m not alone in this, though it seems that while the great throngs of Christmas shoppers are just as eager, they, frustratingly, are in nowhere near as much of a hurry as I am.

As I consider item A for person X, picking it up and turning it over in my hands, I feel this twinge of guilt in my gut. I know it is one of the great unspoken truths, but I can’t help but think of all the people in the world who won’t be getting useless pieces of plastic made in China (in workshops of dubious safety). I think of all the poisons that were released into the world in the manufacture of the item I am considering purchasing, and then I think of the landfill it will become three weeks after person X has used it/got sick of it/ been unable to re-gift it.

Surely we can still spend money to keep the economy turning, share gifts with each other and not create a mass of waste? No, I’m not just talking about using tea-towels instead of wrapping paper, I think we need to totally re-think the gift side of Christmas. I know this may be controversial, and on the surface of things a very un-Christmassy idea, but wouldn’t the gift giving side of Christmas be so much kinder to the earth if we were to buy our own gifts?

Others could still give us gifts, but only after we have handed them over to them to give back to us. We could exchange our gifts before we exchange gifts. Think about it, no longer will we need to feign delight; our exclamations of excitement for that special widget will be genuine. It would even be fun for the other person, gaining a bit more of an insight into us by what we gave ourselves. They too would love what we gave them, having got it for themselves.   

Oh well, maybe I will suggest it to the family next year? At the rate I’m going, between ensuring the gift will be wanted as well as being kind to the earth, everyone is going to end up getting groceries!

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