Today, 25th September, is three months to Christmas rolling eyes worldwide ‘she said the C word’. Christmas with it’s excess consumerism and waste generation… plastic, packaging, gift wrap, cards, food waste.
Our household is already very good in having very little food waste, generally I use leftovers in another meal and it’s unusual for fresh produce to get thrown away. Christmas isn’t really that different, although we buy more than a typical week, it does all get eaten eventually. Last year we did vegetarian Christmas, taking advantage of the special products available for the season. This year will be vegan Christmas, the main difference will be no Boxing Day cheeseboard, and no mass produced chocolate/cream desserts.
With teenagers Christmas isn’t that different to a typical Sunday, apart from the exchange of gifts after which things revert to ‘normal’, i.e. teens and screens… oh and the excess consumption of chocolate. I will have to think more carefully about festive food as it’s one of only two things that mark Christmas out as special (the other being gifts). Spending time with family, see above comment on teenagers, is only as good as spending time with family at other times through the year but with the added pressure of it being Christmas.
This year I ask you to think before spending to excess on food that may not even get eaten.
My vice is chocolate but I’m sure you’ve gathered that from reading my blog and as such Christmas for me is one big chocolate shop. I’m a sucker for the multi buy offers and usually end up buying as much for myself as I do for other people. Being vegan will helpfully tame this impulse, no more huge boxes of Thornton’s. There will no doubt be a huge increase in vegan products as veganism is the buzzword of the year and retailers are keen to jump on the vegan-train, next stop profitville.
In addition to my accidental purchasing of chocolate for myself (and the family) I also get gifted a lot of chocolate which really isn’t surprising given my love of it. Come January and the realisation that my jeans can’t contain all this chocolate, I fight the desire to binge-eat the lot of it just so it’s gone and instead ration it out over the following months. When I first became vegan I wanted to try all the vegan chocolate and junk food products, and ended up eating more chocolate/junk as a result… again not a happy marriage with my waistline.
I digress somewhat, unless I rename this section as chocolate!
Gift buying is a tricky business. People generally don’t actually want anything in particular, with the age of downloaded music, e-books, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon echo etc gone is the option to thoughtfully pick out a paperback and a DVD. Teenagers really only want the latest phone, and let’s face it that’s just stupid expense. And younger kids can get so much that they can’t possibly play with it all. As a mum I’m guilty of buying my boys too much stuff when they were younger and what happened to most of it? Discarded quickly to gather dust.
But there are other options.
Teenagers always like cash for a no stress option, cinema or restaurant vouchers, or book them an experience – segway, indoor skydiving, snowsports, watersports, caving… there are many experiences out there to choose from.
The same for younger kids, who may not understand the delayed gratification aspect of the gift but surely will enjoy a New Year’s trip to see the latest Disney movie?
So, what’s the answer? Again think carefully, ask yourself whether the recipient wants another bottle of whiskey or box of chocolates. Consider buying second hand, or making homemade gifts.
I certainly will be looking to reduce my impact on the planet this Christmas, I just don’t have the details yet.