Consumerism, Climate Change and Christmas

Malka Doshi

December 11, 2021

Christmas is only a few days away, and the holiday fervour has well and truly permeated the air. After the pandemic upended our lives and traditions, we have once again started to gain some normalcy into our lives. This year has allowed us to embrace our old traditions once again. And while these traditions bring value to our lives, some of them wreak havoc on our planet.

The link between consumerism and climate change is undeniable. Our consumption patterns are impacting the environment as we speak. While it is the developed nations that lead the charge on this type of detrimental consumerism, the developing countries are also getting there. They have now started to become a part of the ‘Consumer Class’.

While consumerism is not restricted to the holidays, they do bring about a sharp uptick in spending. The period between thanksgiving and christmas sees about a 25 % rise in spending. The world spends close to one trillion dollars on Christmas related purchases. Consumption is at an all time high, and so are the subsequent environmental damages. A consulting firm Deloitte reports that 73 percent of retail executives expect higher spending this holiday season as compared to last.

2021 has placed us at a precipice. The availability of a vaccine means that we are slowly starting to inch towards normalcy. However the climate movement is still in a lurch, and the disappointing progress at COP 26 has proven that. We are rapidly moving towards a planet that will become unlivable, and our actions are contributing to that.

In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ wrote: “The pace of consumption, waste, and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.”

But what does this mean for all of us as we move into the holiday season?. The pandemic may have robbed a lot from us, but it did present us with an opportunity.It is giving us an opportunity to build back better. We have the ability to rethink our traditions, see how they impact the planet and how we can fix them. Christmas can become sustainable, a celebration of the people in our lives and the planet. We do not need stuff that ultimately ends up in landfills, we need memories with the people we love & a planet that can sustain all future generations.

We want to urge everyone to embrace the spirit of the Laudato Si’, and celebrate the holidays sustainably. You can look at this resource pack for inspiration for an Eco-christmas. If you do, please write to us and tell us your stories!