Christmas can be a tough time of year for many but especially environmentalists and ethical consumers. For 11 months of the year you put your best foot forward, consciously deciding what you consume...but then the festive season rolls around.
So much of the messaging is telling us to buy, shop, add glitter, repeat. If you're reading our blog it's probably because you're a concerned citizen like us - being pulled in different directions - your cultural traditions might be juxtaposed against your ethics. We've got a few suggestions on how you can tow that narrow line and not be the scrooge of your family and friends this Christmas.
Self care will give you strength to challenge the status quo
Christmas is the time for giving, so they say, so why not start with yourself. You'll be more resilient in the face of shameless festive marketing and more likely to explain your views openly and creatively, rather than from a defensive standpoint. Now's as good a time as any to start your self-love regime: that could be morning pages, daily mindfulness, a daily yoga challenge, or a daily TED talk or podcast to keep you inspired. This self-compassion routine will put you in good stead as the festive intensity builds.
Have leftover recipes to hand
Tonnes of food goes to waste at Christmas, the UK collectively wasted £64 million worth of food during Christmas 2014. The statistics will make your eyes water, so be prepared!
If you're not going to convince your 'Christmas Dinner Convention' to go meat-free this Christmas then adapt; have some ethical local butchers up your sleeve, put that organic veg box order in early and then have lots of fun creative recipes at hand to handle the leftovers. Here's a good starting place GoodFood's 60 Christmas Leftover Recipes.
“If you have a lot of one type of food, splitting it into smaller portions will help it to cool quickly and means you can freeze and defrost only what you need for future dishes,” advises the FSA.
In a world where our attention is diverted in so many ways: notifications, adverts, TV etc, giving the gift of your time might be your most valuable present this year.
Make a conscious effort to be fully engaged when you're with the people you care about over Christmas and stop "phubbing". Studies have shown that even having a phone present on a table between two people can inhibit a meaningful conversation. Turn your phone to silent, schedule extended downtime on your device or make a game out of it using your friends with an app like Forest.
Opt out of receiving gifts this year - OR ask for better gifts
You're not the first one to tread this path, reinvigorate a movement that started in 1911 in New York by a few dozen women who called themselves The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, or SPUGs for short. (Find out more about the Spugs in this fascinating article.
Back to 2017, this one might be controversial depending on how strong obligatory gift-giving is considered in your family and/or culture. Miss Minimalist has put a fun spin on it, issuing "One Less Gift" certificates
If you're a bit slow off the mark with that one consider being preemptive and suggesting one or two items from brands that you affiliate with and believe in, or ask for donations to your favourite charity. As The Minimalists suggest, don't be afraid to ask for better gifts.
Spread the word of ethical consumption
If you're buying gifts for loved ones this year, let them say something about your values. Opt for a subscription for unbiased journalism, maybe cook your signature veggie dish for a curious carnivore friend, a massage token for a loved one that could do with taking a leaf out of your self-love book. And if you've been professing the benefits of bamboo underwear all year from your ethical pedestal and not yet converted anyone; now might be a good opportunity. (Yes, that's a plug for you to buy our undies as a gift for a friend. Call us shameless - but the more people we can reach, the more impact we can have to bring about change, awareness and education to the issues within the fashion industry)
However you choose to spend Christmas, weather you celebrate it or not, look after yourself and consume consciously.