The holidays can be packed with waste – from gift wrapping to excessive consumption, decorations and food. A sustainable consumerism expert provides their top tips on how to give the gift of sustainability this Christmas.
Dr Marian Makkar, Senior Lecturer, Marketing
Topics: Christmas, waste, sustainable and ethical gift giving, sustainable decorations
“In a survey among consumers in Australia, 55% reported that they viewed sustainability as extremely important (Statista, 2023), a sentiment that was particularly prevalent with the Gen Z’s surveyed.
“While they may believe being sustainable is important, it can often be confusing when consumers are inundated with sales – Black Friday, Boxing Day, end of year sales etc.
“Responsible consumption is goal 12 in the Sustainable Development Goals and calls for a substantial reduction of waste through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
“However, recent reports in Australia show that we are not on track to reaching this target of reducing our material footprint.
“To be a more sustainable gift giver you could buy:
- Experiences – they are as valuable for loved ones as products, can often put less of a dent on the earth and the memories can last a lifetime.
- Local - knowing where your products are from and supporting your local and indigenous businesses allows you to give back to the community.
- Slow fashion (and other products) - understand where you’re buying from (and who they’ve bought from) and look at the durability of the materials to ensure it will be an item they keep and appreciate for a long time.
"It’s really important to slow down at this time of year rather than get caught up in the hustle, bustle and allure of this frenzied holiday where we can get so easily carried away with spending and consuming more than we require.
"Slowing down allows us to spend more time with our family and friends and value every moment and gives us time to reflect on our purchases.
“Conscious consumption can also allow us to be more responsible financially.
“Other ways to make an impact and practice conscious consumption during the holidays is by:
- Donating unused, nonperishable food to your local food bank.
- Making or re-using wrapping paper (or going without).
- Buying energy-saving LED holiday lights (and store them for next year).
- Getting a chemical-free tree and then recycling that tree.
- Staying local when planning a holiday, rather than flying.
- Donating time or money towards a good cause.
- Avoiding using paper and plastic dinnerware and instead appreciating the time spent cleaning up with loved ones.
“So, give the gift of sustainability this Christmas. We all have a role to play in improving and reducing waste this holiday season and sustainably conscious consumerism is a gift that will last a lifetime.”
Dr Marian Makkar's research interests are in consumer (mis)behaviour and their effects on market development, consumption communities, consumer experiences, and market exclusion and dispossession. She is co-editing a book on the role of marketing in achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Interviews: Marian Makkar, +61 432 214 452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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