As the festive season approaches, the marketing departments of many companies and large superstores are in full swing, trying to convince people to part with ever increasing amounts of money to buy what they have managed sell as ‘Christmas’.
If you aren’t convinced of the power of marketing, just remember that it’s not so long ago that Santa usually dressed in green in most countries until a certain well known soft drinks company decided a red suit would fit their corporate colours better!
This year, a typical adult will spend up to £400 on presents, only half of which will be really needed or wanted; spend an extra £150 on food and drink, 1/3 of which will end up in a bin because of over-shopping or cooking too much; send 20 Christmas cards, with many ending up in a bin and that’s before we even get to Christmas Day itself.
A Christmas dinner in the UK could travel up to 50,000 miles to reach the plate and that’s twice around the world.
So, what can you do to change the situation or to reclaim Christmas? These simple tips may help:
1. Shop locally for food or gifts, every pound you spend in your community has a big impact. Your butcher, greengrocer, bakery, gift shop employ local people who spend their wages in the community so your pound spent near you increases in value.
2. Try to buy free range, organic or locally grown produce – you will know where it comes from and you might even know the actual producer. There will be less chemicals used, reduced food miles, less dependence on fossil fuels and again you will help sustain local jobs.
3. Plan your meals so you buy less food and use it more effectively. Check out www.ni.lovefoodhatewaste.com for some handy tips.
4. If you are buying Christmas cards, buy direct from your favourite charity rather than through supermarkets. They only pass on a percentage of the sale. Alternatively why not ring the person or arrange to meet for a cup of tea in a local café?
5. Wooden toys and gifts stand the test of time, plastic toys can be found in skips in Ballymoney all year round!
6. Buy ethical or fairly traded gifts, many charities have their own gift catalogues now or you can give life saving or enhancing gifts through some charities such as Save the Children or Concern.
7. Why not ‘regift’ all those unwanted presents cluttering your cupboards?
8. Make or bake a gift for someone? Add that personal touch which shows you have really thought about the person? The value of friendships and relationships shouldn’t be measured in pounds.
9. Check out www.buynothingchristmas.org, a website which points out that you don’t have to spend money to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.
10. Finally, if you are wrapping presents, why not try FUROSHIKI, the Japanese art of gift wrapping using fabric? For more information on this click on www.recyclenow.com/furoshiki It’s a pretty cool way of wrapping presents in reusable material which can be made into bags and other things. Of course, you can use this technique all year round; furoshiki isn’t just for Christmas you know!
Christmas can be personally and financially stressful but if you consider some of the tips here it may help. For more information on any of these ideas, please contact Ballymoney Borough Council on 028 2766 0257.