I like to consider myself an anti-consumerist (despite constant failures to follow through in practice) and The Holidays have been turned into the biggest consumerism fest known to man. Or have they? Festive shopping, despite being done on mass, may be the least consumerist of all consumerist acts, as the shopper does not buy for themselves but for others. However consumerism is defined by Wikipedia as: “a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts”- something we are definitely encouraged to engage with during the holiday season.
Before I give my advise I would like to remind readers that I
A) Did not come up with all these Ideas myself, I will be looking throughout the internet for pointers whilst writing this, all sources will be referenced at the bottom
B) Have at least partially failed to remove consumerism from my Christmas celebrations
C) I am a teenager who has never had a full time job or lived away from home- this is just my opinion I am not claiming to be an expert on anything
Whilst the obvious and most commonly sighted way to keep big business out of you’re festivities is to “make your own gifts” 99% of the population runs into trouble here. This takes a hell of a lot of time, equipment for stuff making is often far more expensive than simply buying a gift and few people actually own the skills to make a good gift- not to mention you’ve got to pull all this off behind your families back. Not to mention many people expect store bought gifts so unless you are a very skilled craftsperson or a three year old your loved ones are unlikely to appreciate your efforts. So for this reason I will be offering tips on how to buy gifts in a non-consumerist fashion.
Include Personal jokes and sentiments
If you incorporate small personal jokes and thoughtfulness into the purchase of gifts this takes the focus away from the accumulation of material wealth and back to the relationship you have with this person. Recognise that you can get a far better gift with 5 pounds and a good knowledge of the recover than you can with a million and no knowledge of them.
Buy From Small local shops
I have brought most of my gifts from small local shops. This way you insure that your money doesn’t go to a tax haven and that you are paying for a childs football lessons not a third holiday home.
Don’t buy any “Disposable” crap
I havnt been entirely true to this value this year. I have offended with disposable reindeer antlers on the last day of school (put to shame by my friends beautiful, durable, handmade ones) and my family uses a disposable turkey tray every year. But we all know the spiel: landfills, wastefulness, not cost effective and so forth. Very bad. Best avoided.
Check where stuff comes from
I haven’t brought anything from Amazon this year. It has recently been revealed that they only pay 1% tax in the UK. I if you need to go to chains John Lewis and Lush both pay good levels of tax . The Guardian has a fantastic charismas shopping guide with an “ethical shopper” section.
Give, and Ask For, Books
Nothing is as bad for consumerism like educating yourself- and there is nothing consumerist about it.
Take the Focus Off the gifts
The holidays are about taking time away from work and stress to focus on you’re family, friends and being joyful (and for some people faith). If you focus more on this than the gifts then that is anti consumerist in itself.
This is a favourite of my Grandmother Despite needing to be strictly reserved for those of your friends and family who are on the same anti-consumerist page as you are, bagginsing can be quite fun. It simply involves giving people your pre- loved possessions as gifts. If you don’t own anything your family would want you could always try charity shops and second hand stores. Some people will definitely prefer something new so keep that in mind and agree on bagginsing before hand.
Another one likely to piss off the pro-consumerist relation. Oxfam allows you to give a donation in someone else’s name as a Christmas gift alongside many other charities. You can even get an E-Card if you are running late. You choose what you give and options range from school supplies, to hygiene kits, to goats , to safe water for an entire school at the top end of the price range. But be careful I have heard many a rant against these.
I have found many websites advocating that we should agree with our friends and family not to gifts for each other. This could work but I will not deny that gift giving – if done correctly- can be a good way to tell the people we love that we care about them. So long as we keep our money away from international chains who don’t pay any tax. And make sure you buy you’re conservative friend a subscription to The Guardian- or is that like buying someone deodorant.
Personal contact- Pat Hall