Many of us are still struggling with our list of Christmas gifts to be bought while world leaders are discussing Climate Change in freezing Europe. So where’s the link?
Every Christmas, our carbon footprint spikes up as we consume more electricity for Christmas lights and cooking , use up more fossil fuels as we travel more by car and by plane, produce more rubbish, and use up more resources. Healthcare costs spike up as more people are getting ill from overindulging and over imbibing. I am currently reading John Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas. The book is hilarious but it also highlights the excesses of Christmas.
That doesn’t mean to say we have to completely do without Christmas. I think it is still the best holiday of the year ever and it’s fun to celebrate. However, we should take measures to minimize wastefulness, reduce our carbon footprint, and avoid compromising our health. That’s why I am giving you a couple of Christmas shopping tips.
Here are some questions you need to ask before buying something:
Is it safe?
TOYS. Time and time again, toys are recalled due to safety issues ranging from high lead content to choking hazards. This holiday season’s most popular toys, the Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters, supposedly contain high levels of the toxic chemical antimony. Other toys can contain more than the allowable limit of certain chemicals. For a list of toys that have been recalled for safety issues, check out
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html
- US Recall News www.usrecallnews.com/section/toy-recalls
- Baby zone www.babyzone.com/safety/recalls/photos_2009-recalls-toy-gear
COSMETICS. The EWG has a large database on cosmetics and body care products which have been tested for carcinogen and other toxic chemicals called Skin Deep.
GADGETS. Electronic gadgets are very popular presents for adolescents and adults. When giving cell phones, be sure to check for radiation emission levels. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Cell Phone Radiation Report.
FOOD. The US FDA regularly issues warnings and alerts on food recalls. The recent warnings concerned hazelnuts. For regular updates on food safety and food recalls, check out www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm
Is it environmentally friendly?
Products I consider green or environmentally friendly are those which are made from recycled materials, are biodegradable or are recyclable.
There are CHRISTMAS CARDS made from 100% recycled paper.
TOYS, GADGETS, and APPLIANCES: Are they energy efficient? Why not go for toys that run on renewable energy, e.g. solar or mechanical energy?
FOOD. If you are the organic consumer type, know whether your organic food is definitely organic, e.g. free from pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals.
Is it socially responsible?
I think we should look at the products beyond their appearance and packaging and think of the people who worked hard to produce them. Was the product produced in a sweat shop, by small children? What is the manufacturer’s policy on corporate social responsibility?
The number of products carrying the FAIRTRADE labels is increasing as consumers make their wishes heard about fairness and social responsibility. Check out www.fairtrade.net/products.html for a list of FAIRTRADE products.
Photo credit: stock.xchng