‘The most important things in life are not things’ – Anthony J. D’Angelo

This quote is a mantra that pops into my head more these days as I search to buy presents for my family on special occasions. It’s never more true than at Christmas.

Unfortunately, the festive season has turned into a consumer fest. We are bombarded at every angle by companies competing to sell us their wares – often the largest, shiniest, speediest most celebrity endorsed latest versions of something we already have and works perfectly well (the mobile phone is the perfect example!)

Add to this the gloomy predictions of climate breakdown precipitated by world over-consumption of the Earth’s finite resources caused by us using so much STUFF and I have decided to step off the merry-go-round.

For my own personal buying decisions this involves adding a simple filter to my brain – ‘want’ or ‘need’ – which has been amazingly effective. It has enabled me to resist impulse buying and feel smug because I did!

1 Million Women billboard - All you need is less

The 1 Million Women movement encourages women around the world to help fight the climate change crisis through making small lifestyle changes.

This takes me back to the ‘things’ quote. I’ve decided to give experiences as presents rather than things, such as a cookery lesson, a trip to the cinema, a restaurant meal, a boat ride – all of which involve spending time together and hopefully creating happy memories for us all. This in turn frees me from the pressure of the ‘shopping challenge’ and the endless search for presents to give people to add to the pile in the back of the cupboard waiting to be recycled or sent to the local charity shop.

Pic SamMorganMoore/Apex/Eden

An experience like ice skating at the Eden Project can be fun alternative to a traditional shop bought present.

I’m looking forward to no stress in the run up to Christmas, no jostling in the frantic shopping crowds, just a joyful wander around the Christmas markets, drinking the odd glass of mulled wine and listening to the bands playing carols. Bliss…..

Oh and I forgot – Christmas cards! No. I’m not sending them either except to distant friends and family. Instead a nice fat donation of the equivalent cost will be winging its way to a charity of my choice.

Can I hear you say ‘Bah humbug?’

How to have a more eco-friendly, ethical Christmas

Here’s some top tips on how to celebrate the festive season in a way that doesn’t literally ‘cost the earth’

Buying less, and choosing experiences over ‘things’ is one of the best ways to cut out the commercialisation of Christmas and focus on what’s really important. Alternatively, think about what you could make or bake to add a personal touch.

Baking is a great activity for the whole familyIf you are shopping for gifts, search charity shops or look online for pre-loved items, shop local and support independent businesses, craftspeople and makers, or buy from sustainable producers.

Enjoy the festive season!