Greenies Aren't So Environmentally Cool When Buying Christmas Gifts

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Those who normally make environmentally friendly choices give up being overly green during the festive season.

Apparently, greenies believe their usual environmental considerations can detract from Christmas.

A study, conducted in Wollongong among 16 self-identified green consumer families, shows green gifting is not at the top of mind at Christmas.

“For families already attempting to negotiate tension between the impersonal market and the social relation embodied in a gift, adding environmental concerns into the mix may be too great a burden,” the researchers write.

The researchers turned to gift theory to try to explain why.

The theory suggests that Christmas gifting is not necessarily prolific because of wanton consumerism but because people bring social relations to the fore at that time of year.

Gift recipients might resent environmentally conscious gifts, see them as a reduction in quantity, or refusal to give at all as an unacceptable push into environmental politics, or a valuing of environment over family bonds.

And some receivers of green gifts may indeed perceive the obligation to reciprocate “greenly” as a burden, or as a subtle form of coercion.

In one of the families studied, a teenage son of a strongly green-identifying couple told his parents he didn’t want a goat for Christmas, a reference to charity gifting programs in which the giver makes a donation to a developing community.

The teenager saw this as a virtual, rather than a real, present.

The study, “Gifts, sustainable consumption and giving up green anxieties at Christmas”, by Carol Farbotko and Lesley Head at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, is published in the journal Geoforum.

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