We've crossed the Christmas rubicon in our house. In the last few days, a box of Chocolate Kimberley biscuits arrived on the premises, smuggled in (by me) in the weekly shop.
The first day of December came and the Christmas monster was unleashed - the very word was banned in November, but that ban has now been lifted - the letters to Santa are written and the stacks of Christmas confectionery in the supermarket suddenly seems less offensive now that we are officially on the countdown.
But amidst all the joy, frivolity and extra, empty calories, a problem has arisen, casting a shadow over the magical and unbridled consumerism of the season.
With our long overdue, heightened awareness of the environment, it is impossible to wade through this festive month without feeling guilty for the mountains of extra waste that we already create.
Santa has yet to address the massive packaging that he supplies most of his toys in. We all buy extra food (see exhibit A, Chocolate Kimberley) and gifts for family and friends mean more spending on items that come in boxes and bags - and damage the environment by virtue of their manufacture and transportation in the first instance.
Some of this can be addressed by buying "experiences" instead of gifts. I first started on this path last year - it worked out quite well for me when I gave my husband the gift of dinner and show tickets and he didn’t have much choice but to bring me with him.
But then I heard about a woman who told her colleagues that she was going down the experience route for her pre-teens this year - the experiences included a trip to London and long car journeys to attractions far away from where they live. Aiming for carbon neutral or hopping on board a trend?
A primary school in the UK has banned children from giving Christmas cards to each other in class. The teacher wrote to all parents saying that the cards were adding to carbon emissions and if children wanted to give one card to the entire class, that would be acceptable.
It seems very sensible but of course some of the parents went to the media and accused the poor man of being a Grinch and said he had no Christmas spirit, not to mention the fact that he had written his request on a piece of paper himself. You can’t please them all.
But his idea does raise another dilemma for those of us who would like to at least try to be a little greener this Christmas - and that is - to wrap or not to wrap? Buying the wrapping paper is just one of those Christmas jobs that comes with all of the others on the seasonal to-do list, but this year, it just feels wrong.
Adding to our planet’s problems with rolls and rolls of paper - lots of it probably not recyclable, is surely irresponsible in the extreme?
But what’s the alternative? Do we not wrap? That might kill the magic of Christmas straight off the bat. Do we wrap in old newspaper? There’s a bang of the bah humbugs off that option too. Or is it time to knock the consumer-driven Christmas tradition of shop-bought gifts on the head and just make and bake for our nearest and dearest this year?
All of this is up for discussion on Claire Byrne Live this week - has the climate emergency changed your Christmas? Does the idea of chopping down a tree to decorate your house for a couple of weeks make you queasy? Or are you determined to ignore all environmental concerns and have a plastic-filled season of carefree goodwill?
Get in touch or better still - come in on Monday night, be part of our audience and tell us about it.
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