The season of gift giving is a good time to think about how, and why we give gifts and the implications of what we give. For far too many people, Christmas gifting involves going into debt. The whole process involves a great deal of waste – the overpackaging, the gift wrapping, the single use plastics involved, and the unwanted or soon broken things that head rapidly to the bin.
There’s a lot of pressure to buy and to spend. Especially within families. If you are time poor, then gifting stuff can be seen as a substitute for spending time doing things with a significant person in your life.
Gifting is an opportunity to display wealth and spending power. That can feel powerful, or disempowering, defending on whether you can afford it. The process may be unhappily competitive if you feel you have to out-spend someone else.
Small, cramped living spaces make the whole process more complicated. I have nowhere suitable for storing gifts, which is part of why what shopping I do is last minute. I also have challengings integrating anything coming my way and have encouraged my family to not buy me stuff, because I have nowhere to put it.
I prefer gifting in entirely different ways. I’d rather give at the point when something is needed, because then it’s valuable to the other person. It’s good to give things because they turned up, and were perfect, and to do it when it makes sense rather than trying to do it all in one go. I’d rather focus on the people who are more in need of having stuff head their way.
Waste and overconsumption are destroying life on the planet. Permission to spend less at Christmas is of itself a gift worth giving, to each other, and to the Earth.
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