The sun is shining, my beach towel is a permanent fixture on the washing line and dad has no hesitation about drinking (and more importantly sharing) the top shelf wine from France, yep – it’s Christmas time.
Over the years I have concerns greater than my expanding waistline over this lovely season of excess – over consumption, environmental degradation, sweat-shop labour and us all buying a whole pile of crap we don’t need.
I have bought one or two gifts but on the whole I have decided to make my Christmas gifts – Jen Jen’s jam jam, chutney and smutney, complete with hand-made tags and fabric remnants on the top for that vintage grandma kitsch chic look. And if I do say so myself, they look fabulous, but it is amazingly time consuming and my heart sank a little every time when a batch that took hours to cook would fill only five jars. Five friggin jars.
I wouldn’t say I have achieved a totally green Christmas, I’m still going to eat at least four types of animal on Christmas Day, but it’s certainly more meaningful and slightly more environmentally friendly than previous years. And I’ve really enjoyed the whole process, particularly the smutney – it goes perfectly with duck or Indian dishes.
The Hidden Cost of Christmas, published by the Australian Conservation Foundation is a little old but I think it’s still relevant. If you spend $30 on confectionary this Christmas *slightly guilty look, eyes cast to the floor*, you’ll be consuming on average 20kg of materials (even if the confectionary only weighs one kilogram!), 940 litres of water, 26 squared metres of land, and creating 16kg of greenhouse gases. I’d say my impact is more because although I try to only eat fairtrade, it’s imported from overseas therefore ramping up the greenhouse gases which is depressing, I’d better eat some chocolate to console myself.
If you don’t have the patience to make Christmas presents there are other ways to make a more meaningful and greenie Christmas:
• Buy people an experience, a trip to a day spa, a yoga retreat, season theatre tickets or music lessons, it doesn’t have to be ‘stuff’ and you’ll be supporting a local business.
• According to a 2005 report issued by the Australia Institute, 73% of Australians would be happy to receive a charity gift, mind you you’d sound like a right bastard if you said no!
• There are still plenty of Aussies without, whether it’s in a monitory sense or a lack of community and a sense of home, volunteering and helping others will also help you feel connected.
Merry Christmas from a moral atheist x