the damage

So, another Christmas come and gone eh! We had a lovely time- lots of food, laughter and remote control helicopter flying. I hope you had a lovely one.
Just to add a negative spin on any Christmas cheer still bubbling around, think on these facts:
In the UK alone-
  • 19 million people shopped on Christmas Eve, spending £89 million an hour as the day's shopping bill reached £2.14 billion
  • £10 billion is the average amount borrowed across Britain at Christmas to foot the bill
  • Some 79 per cent of Brits will receive presents they do not like or want
  • Food wasted in the UK increases by a massive 80% during the Christmas period
  • 3 million tonnes of waste are dumped in the UK over Christmas
Eek, these are some ugly figures! The socio-economic and environmental consequences of the way we do Christmas are devastating! It is such a shame that we can live all year in relatively ethical ways and then we hit Christmas and our imagination/passion dries up completely. We talk about a more loving, just, peaceful Christmas but then still let that consumerist monster rip when crunch time comes. Glyn Harries has done an awesome poem over on his blog- 23rd Dec- that really portrays well our passion for goodness but our all consuming desire for plastic crap too.

So the challenge is- how do we do Christmas better in 2008? While it is all still in our minds. Feel free to share an idea. These are three inspiring things from this year:

This year my friend got hold of some recycled material and sewed stockings for all her friends, one friend wrapped all her pressies in junk mail and Tim brought home our Christmas tree from outside of a school at the end of the term. (He had to get out his pocket knife and just saw off 2 metres off the top as it was a whopper. Heehee.)


Glyn Harries said...

Hey. Glad you had a good Christmas. Of course I don't mind you mentioning the poem. I am honoured.

I think it's really difficult to challenge the waste of Christmas because all these gifts and snacks and food and rubbish add to values on family and community that get ignored the rest of the year. We're a society that thinks with our wallets and all this money that we spend on the festivities adds to the aesthetic and it's the aesthetic that gives us that warm, fuzzy glow. When you take away the money, the warm, fuzzy glow decreases and so to suggest such a thing makes you look like a scrooge.

We're desperate for a better society and Christmas seems to promote that. So we tend to shut our eyes and ears to anything that might hinder that or make it sound superficial.

I do believe that Christmas brings out the best in a lot of people and I also believe that (rightly or wrongly) the money that we spend on Christmas is part of the reason for that. But I also do wander at what cost.

Glyn Harries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AmieB said...

Man that is such a predicament, that a lot of stuff is done in the name of family gatherings etc. I wonder if the chirstmas obsession with excess is just a symptom of a greater issue of consuming more than we really need in the west. I suppose thats a pretty pain point that youre all aware of! but as christmas advertising increases so does our spending, when theres a sale we spend way more than we actually normally would or need just because its a sale... etc. Maybe as we relook how we do life, the flow on effect will be that christmas will be different. Practical ways to do that? hmmm momentum, movements that are long term and growing (like the old make poverty history), door knock on your street and discuss a community garden...

this all opens up bigger questions.. how do we mobolise mass change?
AAHHH big life question eh?!

lucy ar said...

yep yep, awesome points both of you.
we have become consumers rather then creators and that is such a shame. If we make life more about creating, not consuming, then Christmas would be an extension of this.
Christmas -and thus celebration - have become synonymous with consumerism, this sucks. It is clear that we need to reestablish Christmas as an event above and beyond consuming but we need to think incredibly imaginatively about how to do so because otherwise we sabotage the celebration altogether!

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