The weather outside is frightful, but the holiday deals are so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go – let us shop, let us shop, let us shop
As early as October, the anticipation of Christmas begins to loom throughout Toronto, sending Thanksgiving and Halloween cowering into a small, insignificant corner. The herd of sparkling white deer have taken refuge for the season at the Eaton Centre, while the Distillery District commences its annual Christmas Market.
However, nothing screams “Christmas!” more incessantly than all the shops announcing their big blowout holiday sales.
Every year, we stray further from the romanticized Whovillian notion of Christmas. The holidays are a quick capitalist cash grab as we are bombarded with ads pressuring us to stock up on gifts.
We are now conditioned to think that presents are the essence of Christmas. It is estimated that Canadians will spend, on average, nearly $1,600 this holiday season, according to PWC Canada. And with the rush of finding the perfect gift, we don’t often pay attention to the waste that we’ve accumulated along the way.
In 2017, 24 per cent of Canadians said that the gifts they received were useless junk, according to a study conducted by Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm. In the same year, the Skittles Holiday Pawn Shop opened in Toronto for customers looking to trade their unwanted gifts for candy. This was after the company found out that 75 per cent of Canadians have been disappointed in a gift they received.
It’s safe to assume that said gift wasn’t thoughtfully purchased — but was rather an obligatory present. Nowadays, the transaction of gift giving is what matters and not the thought behind it.
We are shopping addicts — at least during the holiday season. As we are blinded by discounts and hot deals of the week, we find ourselves justifying our purchases on the fact that it’s not for us — it’s for them. But in reality, we are just satisfying our need to take advantage of a good bargain.
And don’t think that it’s just the obligatory gift that’s unsustainable. The wrapping paper that’s ripped off the present goes in the garbage too.
Around 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated from gift wrap and shopping bags each year in Canada. A 2017 study conducted by Zero Waste Canada showed that each Canadian tosses 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays — 25 per cent more than the rest of the year.
With that said, is there any hope for a sustainable Christmas this year?
Half of Canadians plan to spend less on gifts during the holidays, according to a study done by Equifax Canada. Additionally, over two-thirds of Canadian consumers are more likely to shop with retailers they trust over the holiday season. They look towards environmentally friendly packaging and avoid the use of plastic where possible, according to PWC Canada.
Given the increased awareness of climate change this year, it makes sense that certain demographics are looking to implement their eco-friendly attitudes on the holidays.
While it seems promising that this year will include more sustainable practices in terms of consumer activity, progress is measured by action, not intention.
So please, look towards burlap Santa sacks to hide your presents. Repurpose newspapers or scrap paper to wrap gifts. In terms of present ideas, consider handcrafting something from scratch, like knitting a sweater or making jewelry. Most importantly, narrow down your Christmas list to only the people you hold dear to your heart.
Think carefully on what they might like and keep focused, stay clear of tempting discounts and bargains that will distract you from your goal. We as consumers need to be reminded that sentimentality can be sustainable too.