POW loves Christmas as much as the next person, however it tends to send us all into a purchasing frenzy and this makes us uncomfortable. That’s because it’s a carbon intensive time, as corporations work relentlessly to produce and ship gift items. If you usually get caught up in the Christmas Carnage, then this time of year presents a perfect opportunity to cut back on your carbon footprint.
Now that we’re seeing a long-overdue heightened awareness of environmental issues, the over-commercial side of Christmas is beginning to go the same way as 200cm skis, one-pieces and T-bar lifts. Help drive the change by encouraging donations to rewilding campaigns in place of gifts, and sourcing your gift purchases more sustainably.
Write an anti-Christmas list
Do you have a parent who is guilty of completely barking up the wrong (Christmas) tree when it comes to your taste in clothing? Or do you own a draw dedicated to the Socks of Christmas Past, well-meaning but useless as adventure socks, and laced with microplastics which come out in the wash and enter our waterways? Write a list of what you most certainly don’t want for Christmas, and reach out to those who generally buy you gifts to highlight this. Not only will you be freed of having to feign excitement when you unwrap a “Luxury Wash Set” of mini shower gels you’re never going to use, you’ll be making those family members more aware of the issues, too.
Give money and vouchers
Another way to avoid unwanted gifts is to request and give money and vouchers. If you know for example that a young family member is getting into snowsports, but you aren’t sure if that bright blue snowboard rucksack will fit their colour scheme or if your choice of goggles might in fact cramp their style, get them some store credit. This also gives you the freedom to nudge them towards a more sustainable shop of your choice – this could be a sustainably made, fairtrade brand such as Picture Organic Clothing or Peopletree, or simply a higher-end store which is likely to produce longer lasting clothing. No more throwaway fashion this year!
The gift of life
Request, or give, the gift of a cleaner atmosphere this year. Perhaps you could ask family members to donate to a rewilding project instead of purchasing random gifts, or suggest to pay to offset the carbon produced from someone’s flights. If they ask why to let you do so, send them this. Carbon-negative technologies are fundamental to take away some of the vast amounts of CO2 that we’ve pumped into the atmosphere, and the most efficient carbon negative technology? The humble tree.
Source your gifts sustainably
This is perhaps the hardest point to action, because it does take some time and research. Luckily, POW have made it a bit simpler with a round-up of six eco-friendly outerwear brands. Use this list as a first port-of-call for gifts for your fellow outdoor adventurers. Conveniently, the list also explains why the brands in question are sustainable, so you can take these criteria and apply them to your future shopping and research.
Useful gifts are your friend’s friend
In an article published in the Guardian back in 2012, George Monbiot quite rightly condemns “pathological consumerism,” or the relentless nature of buying useless objects as stocking-fillers. Consider the impact of your short-term laughs on the planet. A jokey sign that says “caution: deeply satisfying poo in progress” might be funny when it’s unwrapped after a few bucks’ fizz, but when you consider the extraction of plastic, shipping costs and fact that it will literally never go away (decompose). Is such junk really worth it?
Beginning to feel like a wrap god?
As you may know, most wrapping paper is not recyclable, and many tonnes of it go to landfill each year. Get creative – use recycled brown paper for wrapping. Decorate with paper bows, foliage or simply sparkly pens. It’s cheap too, at around £3.50 per 25 meters. Alternatively, wrap using newspaper – this way, you can give your family members fitting headlines, too.
The Gift of Power
Of course, the single best thing you can do in the run-up to Christmas, where you’ll likely see friends and family old and new, is to be a climate advocate. Knowledge is power, right?! Make sure your family are 100% aware of the current issues our planet’s facing, and are on board with how we can do our bit. Be vocal, have some evidence to support your chosen channel of climate activism so that if you are challenged, you can reason with supporting ammunition.
If you thought this section was going to involve POW telling you to switch to a renewable energy electricity provider, then we apologise. However, we’d also like to highlight that whilst not the most exciting Christmas present, it’s totally something you can do.