In his encyclical Laudato Si’, published in 2015, Pope Francis invites us to choose a different lifestyle in a world where “the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products” (No. 203).
Isn’t that what happens at the end of every year? Department stores spend big to dazzle their customers’ eyes, and billboards promote gifts (often useless) by the thousands. What if this year, you chose to do your Christmas shopping differently, with respect for our “common home”?
Here are five rules that might inspire you this year.
In his 2014 Christmas greeting to the personnel of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, Pope Francis urged Christians to “ensure that Holy Christmas is never a celebration of commercial consumerism, of appearances or of useless gifts, or of excessive waste, but that it is a celebration of joyfully welcoming the Lord into the crib and into the heart.”
To avoid excessive consumption, why not opt for responsible purchases such as second-hand products? In fact, you can often find new products with their original labels (books, jewelry, toys), but which were not useful to the person who originally bought or received them. You can easily find them at second-hand stores or various online resellers.
Also, you can hand-make nice gifts yourself: this is another way to please your loved ones without taking part in the Christmas shopping frenzy. The internet is full of ideas for DIY gifts. Jewelry, macramé, pottery, wooden objects, beauty products … There’s something for everyone! Some are suitable to be made with your children, and others, which are more complex, are better made by an adult alone. Those who don’t know how to sew or knit can always rely on prefabricated craft kits.
2CHOOSE TO OFFER AN ACTIVITY OR A SERVICE
We often think of material gifts, but immaterial ones can be just as pleasing. First of all, in this way the living space of the happy recipient isn’t cluttered up with more things.
Also, activities such as an outing to a concert, the theater, a restaurant, or a museum are not only more eco-responsible gifts but also the promise of shared good times that will be remembered for years. Why not accompany this gift with a small voucher for some service you can give (babysitting, cooking, etc.) or a service to be performed by another service provider (such as house improvements or gardening)?
3FAVOR LOCAL PRODUCTS
The choice of local products not only supports local businesses, but also and above all respects nature by limiting the carbon footprint of long-distance transportation. It also helps us to create a connection with regional producers and craftsmen.
In the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls for the respect of Creation. This respect can be achieved by choosing to buy ecologically friendly products that have less impact on the environment throughout their life cycle (extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, use, and end of product life). Products made from recycled and recyclable materials, “green” beauty products, clothes made of ecologically friendly materials, and seasonal food products contribute to this respect of nature.
5ADOPT ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING
Laudato Si’ lists many simple things we can do, including “avoiding the use of plastic and paper” (No. 211). Millions of pounds of gift wrapping paper are thrown away each year at Christmas time. Reportedly, waste increases by 20% at Christmas. This is a phenomenal amount of waste, considering that wrapping paper is relatively expensive and causes pollution because most metallized, glittery and plasticized packaging is not recyclable. To protect the environment, the best way is to wrap your gifts in a sustainable and ecological way (Furoshiki wrapping cloth, brown paper, knitting, used wrapping paper, etc.).