Steer away from un­bri­dled con­sumerism

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - with Erica Neustadt of Change4Chal­font

Christ­mas is a hol­i­day with huge pos­i­tives: a time with fam­ily, a bad­lyneeded mid-win­ter pause, and pos­si­bly, a time for re­flec­tion, look­ing back over the year that has been. And what a year we have all had in 2016.

One as­pect of Christ­mas that I strug­gle with is the un­bri­dled con­sumerism, from ad­verts on telly to the huge waste: re­cy­cling points af­ter Christ­mas over­flow with pack­ag­ing; dumps drown in old toys, thrown out to make room for new.

So here are my sug­ges­tions for a lighter touch Christ­mas which hope­fully will leave me at least feel­ing less over-in­dulged in all sorts of ways:

Buy fewer presents, and just those that you know are re­ally wanted! En­cour­age ev­ery­one to write a Christ­mas list of things they would be truly de­lighted to re­ceive.

Peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, can get swamped with presents that don’t mean much, and we are all guilty of buy­ing stuff just be­cause we feel we have to give. If you have kids or a sig­nif­i­cant other, agree to ex­change just one big present rather than loads of bits and bobs. It will be much more mem­o­rable too.

Agree with sib­lings and close friends that there’s noth­ing that you need, and di­arise some time to spend to­gether as an al­ter­na­tive mu­tual present.

Con­sider giv­ing a ‘pass­ing for­ward’ gift – this is a sum of money which the re­cip­i­ent can do­nate to any cause that they would like to help. It’s amaz­ingly suc­cess­ful – peo­ple love giv­ing and chil­dren love to feel that they could help, for in­stance, their favourite an­i­mal char­ity in this way.

Have a fab­u­lous Christ­mas din­ner, which will taste all the bet­ter if you buy lo­cally pro­duced in­gre­di­ents. You can pick up a bird di­rect from lo­cal farms, and farm­ers’ mar­kets are great for earthy pota­toes and all the trim­mings to go with. What could be bet­ter than eat­ing veg­eta­bles pulled out of Chiltern soil just a few days be­fore they ar­rive on your Christ­mas ta­ble? Bet­ter than the shrink-wrapped su­per­mar­ket op­tions.

Make Christ­mas day a palm oil-free cel­e­bra­tion. Not easy, par­tic­u­larly to find a pud­ding with­out palm oil – I now make my own, sub­sti­tut­ing butter and ground al­monds to avoid this in­cred­i­bly dam­ag­ing crop.

And vi­tally, try to work less. Keep it sim­ple so that you can reach the other side with­out feel­ing ex­hausted and as though the fes­tiv­i­ties have been for ev­ery­one apart from you. Have fun!

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