Avoid adding to the Christmas landfill this festive season

The time of giving: Be aware of buying unwanted presents - they seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill, says Paula Ross.
The time of giving: Be aware of buying unwanted presents - they seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill, says Paula Ross.

Is it just me, or has Christmas snuck up this year?...it's hard to believe it's less than a month away. 

When we are time poor, and aren't we all, we tend to grab whatever rather than make a conscious choice about where these gifts end up.

Paula Ross

The joys of Christmas, for most of us, are many. Family, the food, the wine are for most people, the highlight on our annual calendars.

A time to wind down, have a break, share some food and swap presents. The focus on consumption at this time of year is almost unavoidable. It's when we buy a lot of stuff for people. Stuff they probably don't need, possibly stuff we can't afford?

In his 2012 article for The Guardian with the grim title of 'The gift of death', George Monbiot wants us to examine this consumption. In particular, gifts that fall into the quirky disposable variety, he labels them pathological consumption. An excerpt from his article explains...

'There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame'. 

They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations' .

He has a point. When we are time poor, and aren't we all, we tend to grab whatever rather than make a conscious choice about where these gifts end up. Researching her film 'The Story of Stuff'  Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only one per cent remain in use six months after sale. 

These quirky gifts aren't about the money spent but the ‘disposability’, or lack thereof. They aren't about built in obsolescence, as they had no utility in the first place, they were purchased to be mildly amusing, and then thrown away.

Millenials are the most interested and active in the e-gift department, an ever growing alternative to traditional gift buying. Massive online gifting network Blackhawk Network, with it's 85,000 retail outlets, specialise in gift cards, loyalty programs and themed gifting such as dining, spa and movies gifts. The e-commerce trail is less about the landfill.

Convenience and targeting a personal choice for the end consumer, the e-gifts allow a time and place to use them, tailored to the individual.

It's food for thought as we hurtle towards December 25th. We'll possibly be thankful on bin night!

Paula Ross is an Albury interior designer, email paula-ross@hotmail.com