The power of gift-giving without the waste

Christmas and similar significant festivals are a fraught time for many people. Who do you spend the day with? What food should you bring to share, and does it have to be gluten-free, paleo, vegan, or keto-friendly? What do you do if Uncle Clive starts talking about politics, or Aunty Edith wants to debate the science behind immunisations?

And then there is the issue of gifts.

In the 1970s, sociologists in the United States found that gift giving at Christmas time was subject to strict unwritten rules that determined everything from who gives what to whom to how presents are wrapped. They even determined the symbolic meaning behind different kinds of gifts — signifying things such the status of your relationship or whether you were alienated from your spouse.

Read the rest over at Eureka Street.


Laying waste to waste

This week Coles announced it will give away its reusable plastic bags, after having received a barrage of abuse from a minority of shoppers who were disgruntled with having to bring their own or pay 15 cents to purchase a plastic one.

While Coles has announced this is an interim measure (until 29 August) to allow customers ‘more time to make the make the transition to reusable bags‘, others argue that in the meantime it effectively removes all incentive for customers to bring their own. Worse still, these new reusable bags take even longer than the old single-use ones to break down once they are discarded, and this is often after just one use.

The extreme resistance of a minority of shoppers is one issue, but what interests me is that while 80 per cent of us support a plastic bag ban most of us still accept and use them regularly while out shopping. The fact is that it is all too easy to make daily choices that negatively affect the environment, and there are many incentives for us to do so — cost, time, social norms. This is where policies like plastic bag bans come in — they change the incentives and not only help us to do the right thing but also to normalise it within our culture.

— Read the rest over at Eureka Street