Recently, Malaysia is experiencing a surge of interest in being environmentally-conscious. Malaysians are rejecting single-use plastic, instead choosing to stock up on reusable straws and containers in their daily lives.
For the newly-converted green crusader, it may be extremely attractive to buy so-called “eco” products as gifts for this festive season.
But therein lies the problem: by constantly engaging in the act of buying, you’re still perpetuating the cycle of consumption, even if you may think that it’s for a good cause.
In lieu of conscious consumerism, where purchasing choices are made deliberately, greenwashing has made it too easy to believe that you’re doing something good while still engaging in damaging consumerism- and we don’t blame you.
Greenwashing is designed to make people believe that the company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is, claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing.
For example, paper straws that come wrapped in single-use plastic defeat the purpose to reduce plastic waste entirely. Fast-fashion clothing stores taking clothes donations for recycling forget that fast fashion itself is a major source of textile and chemical pollution. Buying eco-friendly reusable items from overseas doesn’t offset the immense carbon footprint it took to manufacture, produce, and ship the item to you from across the world.
But most importantly, greenwashing diverts attention and conversation away from truly engaging in a sustainable ecosystem within a circular economy.
Basically, the best thing to do is to stop buying.
Even though we would always love and cherish any gift received, there are always gifts that miss the mark and end up stowed away in closets and drawers with a hint of guilt.
But you can’t get rid of it, since it’s a gift! …Or can you?
In the wise words of organizational guru Marie Kondo, the true purpose of a present is to be received.
If the gift isn’t suitable for you, then thank it for the joy it brought and appreciate the sentiment: after all, the gift was simply the means to convey someone’s feelings for you. Once that goal has been reached, you won’t have to feel guilty about parting with a gift that doesn’t quite have a place in your life.
There are definitely etiquettes to regifting, though: gifts must still be in perfect condition, it’s something the next giftee would certainly enjoy, and the original gifter shouldn’t be a mutual friend and find out their gift was regifted.
What do you buy someone who already has everything? Something money can’t buy.
I’m talking about time, particularly shared time. Try gifting them a full “day of fun” with experiences instead, such as tickets to a theme park, the zoo, a show, or even a concert!
Otherwise, bring them out to be pampered with a spa or even a delicious meal at a restaurant they’ve always wanted to try.
It’s been proven that experiences make people happier in the long run than just stuff, so why not focus more on that instead?
3. True Need
The season of gifting doesn’t have to be in the form of just things, but sometimes the best gifts are the necessary but mundane. If you and your giftee are close, consider asking them what form of help they truly need.
People’s problems could be really anything that you may not even have thought about: perhaps they need a babysitter for a night, or someone to fix their washing machine, or financial help to pay bills. Maybe they need a hand moving house or carrying a mattress.
Whatever it is, it never hurts to try extending a true helping hand.
Remember, the festive season isn’t about things. It’s about relationships and the people that bring joy with them. So go ahead and ditch the stuff for happiness instead.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.