Christmas overconsumption accelerates climate crisis


Art by Katie Watson

Once temperatures drop, days become shorter, and multi-colored lights line busy streets, it’s safe to say the holiday season is in full effect. Frantic shoppers flood stores mesmerized by heavily emphasized sales encouraging customers to stock up on a surplus of items they simply “need”—but in reality, want. Consumers become blinded to the effects of the overconsumption by the bright signs, glimmering lights, and excitement of the season.
“In the last century—around the holidays especially—excess has seemed normal, even welcomed,” is expressed in an article titled, “Don’t Let Consumerism Consume Your Holiday” from Society has evolved to become increasingly materialistic and has gone as far as to even promote this overconsumption of goods. The result of this phenomenon is much more grave than the development of a materialistic attitude.
“One study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology showed that individual household consumption—not businesses, government or industries—accounts for more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 50%–80% of total land, material and water use,” is expressed in “Don’t Let Consumerism Consume Your Holiday” from Greenhouse gases are extremely alarming as they contribute to climate change as well as pollution harming humans. Overconsumption of goods around the holidays also contribute waste to already overfilled landfills. There, many of the items disposed of will take hundreds of years to decompose. Cute, holiday themed plastic straws used at a Christmas party can take up to 450 years to decompose.
Now, it is nearly impossible to fall victim to the traps of consumerism through online shopping. Its convenience and appeal is extremely efficient for consumers. Advertising methods utilizing social media make internet users, especially teenagers, more susceptible to impulse purchases and therefore, consumerism. Oftentimes, online purchases actually increase the size of a carbon footprint due to the extra packing it requires making it a worse alternative to normal shopping.
Consumers themselves aren’t the only party at fault. Companies directly choose how their products are created and distributed. The largest corporations in the country could lessen the impacts of consumerism on the planet by creating products more sustainably and ethically.
This holiday season, consumers themselves can take precautions to ensure they don’t fall victim to the materialistic frenzy that ensues during this time of year. Consumers can shop second-hand, buy from local businesses, and cut down on unnecessary purchases to lessen their carbon footprint. It is only through collaboration that we will be able to reverse the damage we as humans have caused to our precious inhabitation—earth.