19 November 2016
4 Ways We’re Going to be Better Global Citizens this Christmas
I have conflicting feelings about Christmas.
It is by far my favourite time of year because I love all the parties, the ridiculous amounts of food, the shopping, the gift-wrapping, the carols, the gatherings of friends and family, the decorations… and the beautiful messages about kindness, giving and love.
On the flip side, I hate how commercial Christmas is, and all the excess. Excessive food, excessive alcohol, excessive gift-buying and packaging. I know, I said I love all that food and shopping and parties, but a big and important part of me knows that it’s really all too much. That part of me that cares passionately about the environment, and about all the people in the world who are going without while I gorge, and waste, and take my privilege for granted.
And look, these conflicting feelings aren’t reserved just for Christmas. They’re probably present in just about every big celebration. I love the excitement of Melbourne Cup day, but I don’t believe in using animals in sport. I become increasingly conflicted over Australia Day each year because I love our country and our lifestyle but I can’t ignore our terrible colonial history and the growing hostility towards minorities that such a patriotic celebration seems to fuel.
All these things I used to enjoy with abandon, but as I get older, I guess I’m starting to realise that I am a part of the problems I see in the world.
I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to ‘be the change’ as Ghandi once said. But as with all well-worn habits, change is pretty hard. So I’ve set a challenge to myself to make small changes each year. Because even small change is better than none at all.
Here are four things we’ll be doing this Christmas to be better global citizens:
1. Support small businesses
So I guess this one is pretty obvious. I run a handmade marketplace so it would be pretty cheeky of me to do my Christmas shopping at Kmart!
This one is also pretty easy (gotta take baby steps) because I love giving unique gifts, so buying handmade from Aussie makers means I get better gifts, and support small businesses.
Last year 90% of the gifts we bought were from Made It, but this year I’m going strictly handmade. So if you’re on my Christmas list, you’re getting handmade… or coal!
2. Consume less food
A few years ago we had the extended family for Christmas and everybody brought food. Christmas lunch consisted of TWO ham legs, two chickens, roast vegies, a giant baked cauliflower cheese, 3 salads, two trifles, a pavlova, a Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, custard & ice cream. Plus nibbles.
Seriously? There were only 8 adults and 3 kids. That is a whole lot of food and I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty embarrassing to write it down.
So this year, it’s just the hubby and me and the two toddlers, and we’re going to keep it simple. One protein (because Christmas ham is possibly the best part of Christmas), one salad, one desert. This year, we will NOT be throwing food away!
3. DIY eco-friendly gift wrapping
Let me put it out there: I’m a sucker for pretty & perfect gift-wrapping. So one trend I love at the moment is brown paper wrapping. Ditching the snowflake prints (you know how I feel about those
) and bright colours means that all the paper that does end up in the bin is just biodegradable paper. No nasty inks and chemicals.
We’ll be opting for homemade natural dyes that the kids can use to decorate recycled paper or old linen, and reusable fabric ribbon or twine over yucky disposable foil curling ribbon.
Checkout our ‘DIY Projects’
board on Pinterest for some natural dye ideas like the one below from Craftsy.
4. Give more to those in need by making donation dollars go further.
We always donate more to charity at Christmas, whether it is buying a goat for a family in Africa via Oxfam, or a toy for a homeless child through one of the department stores. I love buying Christmas gifts like this, but how do you choose which charities to support?
Some charities spend less on administration than others, but not all charities are created equal when it comes to impact, so how do you chose?
This year I’ll be donating through Effective Alturism Australia
, which was established to help people invest their money in the most effective ways possible so that donations make the maximum impact.
They use evidence-based approaches to assess charities and you choose which of their recommended charities to donate to. Because they’re run by volunteers and are privately funded, 100% of your donation goes to the charity you select, and you can be sure you’ll be really making a difference.
How are you planning to be a better global citizen this Christmas?
Louise (a.k.a. “Mrs Made It”)
Wordsmith, art & craft enthusiast, and grand-visionary.