Christmas has officially arrived: the streets are filled with lights and we celebrate big meals with our family and friends. But this time of the year is marked mainly by gifts. At Christmas, most people buy gifts and consumption experiences a considerable increase.
According to a study carried out by Deloitte, each Spanish household estimates that it will spend an average of 634 euros this Christmas. Most of the money will go towards buying gifts, but it will also go towards food and drink, leisure activities and travel. According to the study, the population is no longer as concerned about the coronavirus and this encourages consumers to spend more.
Christmas is a time of year when consumerism is encouraged, a trend that pushes us to buy more and more, even things we don’t need. This behavior makes many people become materialistic and only give importance to material goods. For example, they value Christmas positively if they have received many gifts.
But, in addition, consumerism has other consequences at a global level: it endangers the natural resources of our planet. Large-scale consumption and the waste it generates are factors that accelerate the deterioration of the planet.
The impact of consumption on Earth
The Greenpeace organization ensures that three planets are needed to supply the current rate of consumption, especially since the world population does not stop growing: it is expected that by 2050 there will be 9,600 million people on Earth. What kind of consumer behaviors directly impact the environment?
Most of what we consume has plastic. During Christmas shopping it is very common to spend bags of this material that are used for just a few minutes to transport products from one place to another… but their degradation takes hundreds of years to occur. This is not only the case with bags, but also with bottles or plastic straws.
At Christmas it is also very common to buy fashion products. According to the European Parliament, clothing, footwear and household textiles are the main causes of water pollution and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions. For example, to make a new T-shirt, about 2,700 liters of water are needed.
Another environmental problem has to do with electronic devices. Many of these products are affected by planned obsolescence: manufacturers configure these devices to stop working after a certain time, so that users continue to buy them. As a consequence, millions of tons of electronic waste are produced each year.
Sustainable and responsible consumption
To reduce the impact of our consumption on Earth, especially at Christmas, we can take certain actions that are very simple. For example, we can take advantage of these dates to eliminate the use of plastic bags, which are highly polluting, and bring reusable bags when doing our Christmas shopping.
We can also use recycled paper to wrap gifts, such as newsprint or reused paper from previous years. You can even use a handkerchief or piece of clothing to wrap them, which can be part of the final gift.
When buying gifts we can also opt for second-hand products that are in good condition. Making new objects requires the use of many materials and both their manufacture and transportation will require the use of polluting fossil fuels. We can also give away non-material goods, such as a concert ticket or a visit to a museum.
But the most important thing is to be aware of what we need and what we can do without. Sometimes we have products at home that continue to work and fulfill their function perfectly, be it a piece of clothing or an electronic device. That is why it is important to avoid buying for the sake of buying: if we reduce our consumption, we will generate less waste and be more respectful of the environment.