Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Can we really celebrate Christmas responsibly?

Santa’s hood is still in danger of overflowing with gifts this year. According to the recent CSA Research survey for Cofidis, the average budget that the French will devote to the preparation of this celebration amounts to 571 euros, of which 340 will be transformed into gifts for loved ones. Because making others happy remains extremely important. Unsurprisingly, Christmas promises to be once again a period of hyperconsumption. Without a possible alternative? “While respecting this ritual of exchanging gifts, it is perhaps the moment to reflect on the meaning that we give to its consumption”, raises Philippe Moati, professor of economics at the University of Paris-Diderot and co-founder of the Society and Consumption Observatory (ObSoCo).

It must be said that the French are more and more sensitive to what they consume and the impact that this can have on the environment. “There is an awareness of environmental issues and of the link between our way of life and the impact on the environment” confirms Philippe Moati. According to L’ObSoCo’s Emerging Consumption Observatory published in early 2018, 80% of French people say they are concerned about environmental and ecological issues and 77% say they have changed their consumption habits in recent years to act in favor of the environment. “There is a rise in the desire to consume less but better”, also assures Philippe Moati. And indeed, according to the E.Leclerc Observatory of New Consumption, 41% of French people want to opt for ethical gifts in line with their values.

Make your own gifts

How to reconcile this desire to consume responsibly with the Christmas party? Avoiding plastic products or products made outside of France can certainly prove to be a real obstacle course – especially in the face of the very specific requirements of children -, but other solutions exist. Why not put your hands in the dough and offer an object that you made yourself? This is what 11% of French people intend to do according to the E.Leclerc observatory. Very fashionable in recent years, Do it yourself is a hit. “According to a survey carried out in partnership with Leroy Merlin, 26% of French people aged 18 to 70 say they have already done work on objects and on this segment of the population, 47% have already offered their creations as gifts”, indicates Philippe Moati. Not only does this sometimes give new life to an object, but it also gives the gift more value, he adds.

The start-up Wecandoo, which offers workshops with artisans, has seen this. “We receive a lot of questions about the possible customization of objects made in our workshops”, indicates one of the co-founders, Edouard Eyglunent. But the Do it yourself can also be used for the preparation of the party, for the meal and the decoration. Wecandoo, which has 50 to 100 customers per day, has also launched “special Christmas” workshops with artisans to learn how to make an artisanal foie gras or even create decorations and balls for a Christmas tree.

“Going from having to being”

For those who are not good with their hands, don’t panic! There remains the possibility of turning to second-hand products. A trend that is rising, particularly with purchases of refurbished smartphones. But even for other categories of gifts, the second-hand sector is dynamic. Leboncoin is experiencing this with peak audiences and ad posting from November. In November / December 2017, the “games and toys” category recorded 6 million unique visitors compared to an average of 2.3 million the rest of the year depending on the platform. Cheaper products, giving meaning to your consumption, or even finding a truly unique object are motivations for buying second-hand.

“One of the tips for responsible consumption at Christmas is not to wait until the last minute. It is better to do it in advance and put aside gifts throughout the year” believes Philippe Moati, remembering that it is sometimes difficult to find the right idea, to identify the present that will really please and will not be put away. Hence this other solution: favor an experience to offer. Gift boxes for leisure are legion but it can also be an introduction to an activity for example. “The workshops that we offer are sometimes offered as gifts: it is an experience that allows us to understand the value of artisanal production,” says Edouard Eyglunent of Wecandoo. “We have reached a stage where we have to move from having to being,” adds Philippe Moati.

“Consume less but better”

But responsible consumption is not just about gifts at Christmas time. If you are a fan of an outfit to wear in an exceptional way, rental platforms such as “One evening dress” exist. A trend that could become more and more important as the French Fashion Institute (IFM) has just announced that consumption of textiles and clothing should decline by 2.9% in 2018. According to a survey carried out by the IFM, 44% of consumers claim to have bought less clothes this year and if it is due to budget constraints for 60% of them, it is a choice to “consume less but better” for the remaining 40%.

And since it’s still better to celebrate Christmas at the foot of a tree, the Lille start-up Mon petit coin vert even offers to grow your own tree! However, it will take a few years before you can hang the socks to garnish with gifts …