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[It’s been ages since I’ve written on my blog but I’m back for good]

As Christmas approaches the overwhelming amount of spending in malls, shops, and other places around Canada will start to increase. Consumerism and good marketing has lead us to believe that Christmas consists of a Christmas tree, decorations, and gifts under the tree. It sounds really beautiful but elements of it aren’t as pretty as we’d like to think…

Rich and Poor

There is a massive division between the rich and poor in our country. As Christmas and good advertising ramps up it only further divides these people further. Parents of poorer families want to provide the same level of ‘giving’ to their children as the other families around them. But if you are working a job that pays $6 – $10 / hr and you are barely affording to pay your rent, electricity and food it would be pretty impossible to provide that much more.

Gifts gifts gifts

One of the bigger issues that I struggle with on a regular basis is where the ‘stuff’ that I buy comes from. Were the products manufactured in a safe, healthy, fair-waged environment? Or was is produced using sweatshop labour so that I could save $5 more? To me this principal in itself breaks the original concept of Christmas (from it’s Christian roots) about helping poor people that have nothing. In this case the gifts we are giving actually perpetuate some of this oppression.

Free yourself

This year my family and I are exchanging gifts that are all hand-made – nothing purchased. One thing that makes me feel exciting about this is that it fuels my ability to encourage creativity, newness, and give something that I put a lot of love and attention into. For someone that I really care about. The sky is the limit with the kinds of things that you could make!

Growing Movement

There is a growing movement of people who are really focussing on bringing back the power of the consumer by participating in events like Buy Nothing Day or Buy Nothing Christmas. People are becoming more and more passionate about the choices they have when it comes to buying things. Not to mention the fact that ultimately it’s a choice rather than an obligation as most advertisers would have you feel.

For me it’s also important not to be judgemental of others exchanging gifts as that ultimately is other peoples choice to make. But for me I want to have more control over the choices I’m making in my life – rather than being influenced by a corporation.

So get out there and start making some creative gifts!

As an activist, sustainability educator, and random person sometimes I find it difficult not to try and mesh all three of these elements into the way that I communicate thoughts about life. Recent discussions around dumpster diving and educating the “masses” about the legalities of such acts has raised alarm bells for me. Let me start by defining these actions..

Dumpster Diving: The act of going into commercial dumpsters (or non-commercial to) and pull out items of use or food that is being waste for reuse or consumption.

Gleaning: The act of going into farmers fields (note: still legal in Europe although not as heavily acted upon as the old days) and taking the produce left on the farm fields after the harvest.

In the true form Gleaning is an act that is still legal in Europe as a means of collecting left over food. The concept of Dumpster Diving has been a response to the over production of food rather than a means to the end.

In its outright Dumpster Diving is not a sustainable action, but something that most people do in response to the over consumption that our existing world takes part in. Correction: Our existing world meaning “Western” world because travelling to places like Ecuador you find people eating the food that we tend to throw away – brown bananas anyone?

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