This year, more than ever before, it’s crucial that we make Kirihimete one that is better for our people and our planet. Because the holiday season and all the excess food waste, decorations, gift giving, travel, and lighting comes at a massive carbon cost, making it an annual environmental disaster. Because so many of our holiday behaviours are driven by neoliberal capitalism, a system that perpetuates inequality and inhumane working conditions for society’s most vulnerable. Because there are so many alternative ways of celebrating that are compassionate, considered, and contribute to the growth of our local communities. There really is no excuse - and there’s a lot of inspiration available on how to make your Kirihimete kinder if you’re prepared to do a little planning ahead of time. Here are five rules to follow in the leadup to December for a more considerate and conscious Kirihimete:
1. Avoid buying material goods altogether.
Organise an experience(s) for somebody instead: a fully planned surprise trip away together; a hike on one of New Zealand’s many beautiful nature walks; tickets to see a movie, play, or a concert; passes to dance/fitness classes; subscriptions to their favourite magazine; or memberships to the local art gallery or museum. There are so many different ways that these kinds of thoughtful gifts can enrich the lives of your loved ones, instead of cluttering their homes with something they might not have needed/wanted.
2. Second-hand finds.
Whether you’re looking for stocking fillers, a wardrobe update, homeware, outdoor gear, or any other kind of holiday gift, there’s usually a way to obtain it second-hand. Try Trade Me, businesses building up our circular economy such as op-shops and consignment stores, and family and friends who are decluttering their homes. New Zealand’s household debt is reported to be extremely high - finding gifts second-hand will help prevent overspending as well as being gentler on the planet.
3. Quality, not quantity (or novelty!).
If you know that there is something that a friend/family member/colleague would really appreciate, make sure that you purchase something of high quality. If it’s a clothing item, make sure you are purchasing something that is durable, versatile, and simple to maintain. If the gift is an electronic, make sure you’re aware about the practice of ‘planned obsolescence’ where manufacturers deliberately shorten the lifespan of technology to make users spend more. And whatever you do, don’t waste your money on novelty or joke presents that inevitably end up in landfills or on op-shop shelves come January.
4. Shop from independent and local makers/creators.
The impact of purchasing from independent and locally-owned businesses is huge. More of your spent dollar goes back into the local economy rather than into the already-bulging pockets of the world’s wealthiest CEOs. Local businesses have a significantly smaller carbon footprint. And the presence of thriving independent businesses keeps the distinctive characters of our communities alive. Some of my favourite local businesses are: Time Out Bookstore, Taputapu Design, and Crushes on K. Rd.
5. Reject plastic/single-use packaging.
Minimise the mountains of single-use gift-wrap that will languish in our landfills this holiday season and embrace more sustainable options. The Japanese art of fabric wrapping - Furoshiki - is a beautiful and far more interesting way of putting thought into the delivery of your gift. You can use all manner of environmentally friendly fabrics (thrifted fabrics or scarves, decorated/embroidered old sheets or pillowcases, unwanted fabric pieces from your craftier friends) to wrap objects of different shapes and sizes. The first R of sustainability is Refuse - practise saying no to plastic packaging, cellotape, and new rolls of synthetic ribbon this summer. And bonus points if you actively provide feedback to local retailers about ways they can improve their practices.Support Villainesse