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Consumption during the Festival Season

When it comes to the festive season we spend more, eat more, play hard. We also consume disposable ‘stuff’ – often without much thought of where these consumables come from, who is impacted by the use of the resources to make these things, and where these gifts will end up. Our last issue of sustainability news for 2016 is dedicated to thinking differently about our consumer habits around gifting. Think fair trade, eco-friendly, and ethical origin gifts; think local and artisan; and above all, think of gifting experiences.

The stuff we buy has life-cycles far beyond the moment of consumption, with origins and impacts that stretch around the world. In 2015 the 193 countries of the United Nations General Assembly signed up to the aspirational 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with goal number 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption – particularly relevant to this time of year. As well as having environmental consequences, there are questions about equity raised by consumption: according to Worldwatch Institute, 12 percent of the world’s population in some key developed countries accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one third of the world that lives in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent. The Sustainable Development Goals are the responsibilities of our governments, private industry, non-government organisations – and also us.


Luckily, as well as being socially and ecologically responsible, looking beyond ‘stuff’ when choosing presents for family and friends opens up a whole bunch of amazing gift ideas. Some of these could include:

–   cooking classes
–   art classes at the Fremantle Art Centre
–   film tickets to Luna Cinemas or the Somerville
–   a day of art touring through the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, or the latest exhibit at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art
–   tickets to the Perth International Arts Festival, or other arts events around town this summer
–   a promise to take a mate to a show of their choice at Perth Fringe World Festival 2017 (tickets on sale next week)
–   a train ride from Fremantle to Midland, getting off for a swim at Cottesloe and browsing the antique stores of Guildford
–   hot air ballooning in York
–   horse riding
–   scuba lessons
–   a massage
–   swing-dancing classes
–   a busy-bee gardening day
–   a home cooked meal
–   a night out at that restaurant you both always wanted to go to
–   a donation to the numerous NGOs that are providing critical assistance to those =less fortunate such as Médicins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth, or local charity Manna who provide meals for Perth’s hungry and homeless (check out this website to assist in making decisions about where to donate)
–   or of course, a membership to the Blue Room Theatre, a Complete Works subscription to Season One (available early 2017), tickets to Summer Nights shows (available next week), a donation, or a Blue Room gift certificate.


Live well, be kind, and stay safe over this festive season – and remember the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.


Image from Flickr