Environment, Science

The Christmas consumerism controversy

After spending the last couple of months turning a blind eye to the tinsel clad shop dummies and squinting against the blue and silver glare of shopping lanes illuminated in festive anticipation, December is finally is here and it is time to soak up the Christmas spirit.

As much as there is to love about Christmas, be it the cheesy music, social gatherings, roaring fireplaces or hustle and bustle of the city centre, there is one element of the season which can niggle at the conscience.

There is no escaping the fact that Christmas is a consumption fest. This does not just mean the guilt that comes from the glut of mince pies, roast dinners and (it goes without saying) far too much mulled wine. Consumption reaches its peak in December. Electricity demand soars whilst homes and shop fronts compete for the most eye catching light display, and everybody begins the mad rush to find that perfect present for their Aunty Lyn, Uncle Pete and Cousin Bob.

Of course, there is absolutely no problem with presents or a few fairy lights. In fact, Christmas shopping is my all time favourite activity. You can’t beat the thrill of running round like a headless chicken on Christmas Eve hoping for a last minute flash of inspiration before the shops shutter up for two days.

The only troubling part of the holiday is the huge piles of empty packaging and wrapping paper that accumulate on every doorstep on boxing day; the unwanted presents which get shoved to the top hand corner of your wardrobe, not to be pulled out for another decade, and the huge amounts of food that get left to fester in the fridge when no one can face another Christmas dinner.

Although each household’s contribution may be small, altogether the festive footprint is pretty significant. So put your feet up, snuggle up with a glass of mulled wine and turn a thought this year to the environment by checking out our top tips for a climate friendly Christmas.

04/01/2012

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