Written by Lars Maebe
The holiday season, while a time for celebration and family, is also a period of escalated consumerism. The appeal of Black Friday sales and the tradition of Christmas gift-giving often drive excessive spending, leading to increased waste and environmental harm.
Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season, entices consumers to overspend with attractive deals. Last year in Belgium, Black Friday saw 645,195 transactions in just 24 hours, resulting in substantial revenue of 61.4 million euros. However, a study by Testaankoop revealed that less than 25% of these discounts were genuine. In response, some well-known brands are choosing not to participate in Black Friday, supporting alternatives like "Green Friday" and 'Circular Monday' instead.
The Christmas season further intensifies consumption. On average, Belgians spend 339 euros on Christmas gifts, a significant figure despite being lower than the American average of 983 dollars.
The environmental cost of this mass consumption is considerable. Unsustainable packaging, plastic decorations, and unwanted gifts contribute to the global waste problem.
So, how can we address overconsumption during the holidays?
Firstly, consumers can adopt mindful shopping practices, focusing on necessity and quality over quantity. Secondly, consider gifting experiences rather than material items, which research suggests brings more happiness. Thirdly, choose sustainable and ethical products with minimal packaging or made from recycled materials, and support local businesses and fair-trade practices. Lastly, recycle and reuse. Old decorations can be reused, and unwanted gifts can be donated rather than discarded.
In conclusion, the holiday season is a time of heightened overconsumption. To ensure a sustainable future, it's essential to transition from mindless consumption to conscious consumerism. The greatest gift we can offer our loved ones and future generations is a healthy planet and a more sustainable lifestyle.