Christmas presents: nightmare of nature

One of the most stressful parts of Christmas is always the same. What Christmas present should I buy? Even though presents are always lovely to receive and and even more lovely to give, there are still some environmental aspects that we should take into consideration.

By buying Christmas presents you are harming the environment with a high possibility. Still, most of us really like presents and think it’s an important part of Christmas.

But personally, I just see a lot of disposable plastic, fast fashion and environmental destruction.

Soft or tough gift package? Shirt or candle? Let’s think about whether it is really necessary to give a gift to your friend or family member first. Usually not, but by giving a present to your friend you can show how much you care about them. It doesn’t have to be something in the shop, it can be, for example, cleaning, cooking or shared coffee time at some cozy place. In addition, this can also be a slightly cheaper version of a present, but still just as valuable.

In 2021 people in the United States spent approximately 900 dollars for all the Christmas costs and most of the expenses were spent on gifts. The default is that the average costs of presents will rise this year because of inflation. That means that people in the USA and many other countries will spend several hundreds just on gifts. The question is how much of this money goes to the right cause? Because it seems very likely that hundreds of dollars will be spent on trinkets alone. So, next time you want to surprise your loved ones, think carefully if there is something that the person really needs. The proverb “It’s the thought that counts”, is more than valid. Your friend probably appreciates homemade pastries more than something that is bought from a store.

One good way to spread the Christmas spirit is to donate money to charity. For example in Macedonia there is an organization called Centre for Social Initiatives NADEZ. This organization supports human rights and helps Roma children to get into school by providing necessary school materials and other support. At this moment, NADEZ is raising money so they can educate up to 60 children per year. You can also find other places to donate to on a website called GlobalGiving which is a safe and easy way to find many opportunities for charity.

If you still want to buy a present, which is hopefully something that the person really needs, make sure that you are always trying to choose recyclable materials for its wrapping. Most of the wrapping paper is not just paper. Usually, the paper is mixed with plastic and paper and that may not be possible to recycle. In general, there is no right or wrong answer to what kind of wrapping paper can be recycled. It is being said that a good rule of thumb is that if you scrunch up the paper into a ball and it stays scrunched then it might be recyclable. But still you can’t be sure. So that’s why you should always try to reuse wrapping material before recycling it.

According to the BBC, people in the UK throw away about 227 000 miles of wrapping paper every year. You can cover the whole Earth at least seven times with that paper. And that’s only in the UK. That’s why we should take into consideration whether there are any other options for how to wrap your packages. Japanese furoshiki gift wrapping is one of the most environmentally friendly of all and at the same time a very functional way of wrapping your gifts. Furoshiki are traditional clothes that wrap the gifts instead of paper. This works also with old fabrics or vintage scarves. When you wrap the present in a piece of cloth then the recipient of the gift can get two gifts in one time.

Little things that you take into consideration when you think of presents can already help nature. For some, Christmas without presents is not Christmas at all. But I still want to say for those who have to constantly explain their values, which include non-present Christmas, just keep going. You are not harming or offending anyone. You just want to make sure that we all have a safe and happy Christmas in the future as well.

Katariina Weijo


BBC – Can you recycle the wrapping paper?

Nadez – Centre for social Initiatives | Donate – Americans planning to spend generously this holiday season

Chatelaine – How to wrap your gift in reusable fabric, Furoshiki style

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