Was planning for a full 25 days of eco holiday cheer but unfortunately computer said no. Now that things are up and running again I am pleased to announce the ‘Tis the Season to be Eco’ series where Sustainability in Style will be focusing on making this holiday season the most thoughtful one to date. Stay tuned here and on social media for updates, especially on Instagram where I will be joining in @greenwithme_au’s ‘Conscious Christmas’ challenge.
For todays post we will be addressing the fist of the four ‘R’s. Rethink.
Rethink is the broadest and least concrete step of the eco awesome foursome. The remaining three, ‘reduce’, ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’ are comparatively self explanatory. Not being one to shy away from a challenge let break this changeable beast of an idea down Xmas style.
Rethink your Christmas List
Ol’ Santa was really onto something when he made his list and checked it twice (however it’s up to you if you want to punish the naughty and be kind to the nice).
Shopping without a clear strategy can result wasteful consumption, or in Santa’s case a bunch of very upset children. So first things first. Do you have a Christmas list?
Depending on how you like to work this list can written neatly on a sheet of decorative paper, in your holiday planner (yes these do exist for those of you with excess holiday cheer), scribbled on the back of a napkin, electronically filed, or safely stowed in your head. Personally I normally take the scribbled on a scrap of paper or in a notebook approach. Whatever option you choose, having a plan when you hit the shops (if you choose to do so) will result in specific and targeted purchases.
Stores are designed to make you buy stuff you didn’t intend to. This is worked into the planning of every store. Marketers tantalise your senses and encourage you to buy on impulse. Be it candles that aromatically delight you as you shop for pyjamas (bet that you Aussies know what store I am talking about here) or that perfect soundtrack that makes you stay a little longer just to hear the next song. These are selling strategies and will make you buy more (trust me I am trained at these selling techniques).
Shopping small, ethical, eco, or local won’t make you immune to these selling strategies. Online or ‘bricks and mortar’ ethical or eco brands are still selling you items. Many offer just like the conglomerate stores, ‘gift with purchase’ or ‘buy one get one half price’ sales, or even blanket discount that will tempt you to want to buy more while things are a bargain price. Keeping focused on your list can help rein(deer ha ha ha Christmas Dad joke alert) in any whims to want to ‘stock up’ while things are on sale. Buying small or local can also result in ‘oh but they were so nice I had to buy something’ purchases. It is great to support a wonderful seller but if the item is just another thing you will have to go home and store or find time to use, then it isn’t a sustainable purchase.
The hard and fast rule is if the item isn’t on your list then it is not part of your Christmas shopping no matter how much of a bargain it is!
If you don’t get the opportunity to shop often and would normally use your holiday shopping time as an opportunity to buy household or fashion items then be sure to take along a separate ‘personal shopping’ list as well as a set of predetermined buying values to be sure you don’t stray away from your eco credentials (mine are quality, fabric, fit for purpose, ethically produced, and sustainably minded). This means that if you do feel the urge to shop outside your present shopping list the personal items you buy wont be ‘useless’ impulse finds that clutter your life until you donate them to the op shop.
Rethink the need to shop
Now we have our christmas list sorted do we really need to shop at all?
While it is nice to find the perfect present in store, wrap it up in pretty paper and put it under the tree, does Aunt Mabel really need another crystal wine decanter to add to her collection?
Sure she will probably love it but like most of us will take it home, look at it, then stick it in the cupboard never to be seen again or until it’s time to move house and she curses having to pack her 35 crystal wine decanters. Perhaps a better option would be to ring her and ask her directly if there are any items she needs around her home. If you prefer an element of surprise in your gift giving you could ring and ask Mabel’s son or husband, or even just ask Mabel a few questions about what she has been up to. If she mentions she has recently taken up fly fishing you have two options. One is the tangible gift option such as fly fishing flies, this is a good gift idea for those who like to have lots of parcels under the tree. The other is gifting an experience. You could buy Mabel a guided fly fishing holiday if you had the money for one. Alternatively if you aren’t particularly cashed up you could offer to spend the day with her learning how to fly fish and drive her to her favourite location with a packed picnic.
I recommend checking out the Non Gift Christmas ideas post by Moral Fibres for a plethora of great alternatives to the traditional tangible gift idea.
Rethink your holiday plans
If you are anything like me. Christmas isn’t really the great big ball of fun it used to be when I was five.
Back then all you had to do was enthusiastically write your wishes for santa in a letter and count down the days until your wises were magically granted and aunties squeezed your chubby cheeks.
As we get older the reality sinks in. With emotions running high, time disappearing before your eyes, and lots to plan and negotiate many of us would prefer to hide under a rock than have to think about holiday season. The first Christmas that we (Mr. and I) had following a move several states away from friends and family there was a decision made fly home for the holidays. After borrowing a car and driving all over Victoria and New South Wales for one solid week visiting relatives and not pleasing anyone (with holiday emotions running high we were often asked ‘why won’t you be at our house on Christmas Day’) we returned home over stuffed from too much food and too many gifts and utterly exhausted.
As selfish as it sounds there hasn’t been a family holiday celebration at Christmas since this trip.
For some the thought of not seeing family on Christmas Day might be unbearable but we have found that alternate Christmas celebrations work well for us. In order to avoid expensive holiday flights, volatile holiday emotions, and extremely costly pet boarding we now see family for a christmas get-together in November, or January-February. Christmas day is usually spent quietly snacking, heading to the beach, or until they wisely decided to close the cinema, watching movies on the big screen with the cinema all to ourselves. While this isn’t a desirable option for all, sometimes rethinking the way you celebrate can be a really nice way to not only cut the cost of your christmas but be kind to yourself and reduce the stress of the holiday season. Our ‘quiet christmas’ celebrations are something I look forward to every single year relishing a day where the world is truly occupied in their very own celebrations. Our local friends often kindly open the doors to their family Christmas for us but we usually opt out of being involved in other peoples holiday flurry. Seeing family and friends outside of the ‘stressful holiday emotion’ zone always makes for happy memories and no need for finical debt.
Now that we have the idea of ‘rethinking’ christmas all neatly ‘wrapped up’ (I am going to end up on the naughty list with these bad Christmas puns) do you have any ideas on how you will rethink your holiday season?
Feel free to share your thoughts below!