Our society is already choked by the level of consumption that is coaxed into us every day by garish and seductive advertising that ramps up every perceivable holiday. Christmas and Easter were already a given, but now Halloween, Black Friday, Amazon Prime day, just a slow Tuesday can be a big revenue earner for brands.
Though hopefully our birthdays, anniversaries and other individual days of celebration are safe from the lurking force of marketing, the expectation imposed onto us by this ever-growing force to buy more, bigger, pricer things for ourselves and our loved ones becomes deafening.
But this enforced belief that you must prove how much you care with how much you spend has been created by corporations to exploit our usual sensibilities when it comes to others. Instead of using an occasion to bolster the bank of big brands, use it to encourage a culture of truly giving.
Whether you’re creatively gifted or impaired, make a card, because no matter how it comes out, the effort you’ve gone to on something for them rather than picking up a preprepared sentiment is always worth more than propping up the bonuses at Hallmark cards. Spend some time rather than money and cook a favourite meal, complete with a bouquet of organically grown flowers on the table. Invest time or money into an experience rather than an object, from water sports to fishing to even a personally mapped walk through their favourite spots. If these don’t float your fancy, use the gift money to buy ethical foods made from artisans in emerging nations or those in the local craft fair.
If you’re getting more into the sustainable scene, bolster yours and their green credentials and gift some sustainable behaviour changers. A shampoo bar and locally crafted or sustainably sourced soap dish or a long-lasting safety razor, a fancy reusable cup along with a loose leaf tea and infuser, and for gadget enthusiasts, a solar-powered power bank to charge their phone away from home.
For your loved ones overseas or that person who has everything, buy the protection or planting of a tree in the rainforest in their name to fight against deforestation. Or donate to a legitimate charity for a cause that reflects them, like struggling craftspeople overseas or bikes for children to get to school.
Gifting moments can be a difficult time for environmentally minded people, as even if you’ve adapted your own lifestyle to be more conscious, you may be reluctant to enforce it on others. But at a time when people are becoming overwhelmed by the influx of stuff in our lives, and minimalist lifestyles are becoming mainstream, they may just appreciate it more than you think.