Christmas Captivity

Of course, despite everything, the Media is overloaded with Christmas. There are articles on just about anything and everything that could possible fill column inches with banal and superficial nonsense cheerleading nothing other than consumerism and the “family spend”. So it could be refreshing to consider articles suggesting “lean” and “sustainable” “GREEN” festivities.

This morning’s radio nonsense was a case in point. The BBC’s “You and Yours” dedicated three-quarters of an hour to pursuing a carbon-zero Christmas. It could have been essential listening. But the Great Lie being carefully put across was apparent from the very first sentence: “We use more plastic during the Christmas period than any other time of the year and waste enough wrapping paper to stretch from Earth to the Moon.”

Whilst the statistics are probably accurate, the “we” offers the continuation of the propaganda that blames us all equally for global heating and obscures if not denies the lack of choice most of us have. Anyone who finds it essential to budget carefully to the point of penny-pinching on the Christmas presents has long known one thing. Common commodities on sale through the year are suddenly “gift-wrapped” and over-priced in the lead-up to Year End. A branded bath oil and its brother, shampoo, are produced in smaller than usual rubberised tubes, then nestled in huge moulded plastic display boxes, the printed outers then covered in thick see-through plastic lids complete with plastic bows and nylon ribbons. The packaging uses-up dozens of times the natural resources of the cleaning products themselves and will remain as pollutants for hundreds of times the time.

We could buy twice the grams of the same stuff for a fifth of the price were it not that we are emotionally coerced and guilt-tripped into giving proper gifts to be unwrapped from under the tree. Oh and yes, the usual packaging is removed from the shelves through the twelve weeks of Christmas.

It is the packaging companies, worldwide, who produce this garbage to end-up in land-fill for generations or as toxic fumes and micro-particulates from an incinerator chimney. Its all just a money-making racket.

We are not all equally responsible. The potential for a boycott of all packaging by all 50 million UK consumers, let alone the billions of us worldwide is far more difficult to organise and sustain than simply outlawing the production of such profligate waste. If we can ban CFCs we should be able to ban the non-degradable plastics. It just requires political will.

Of course, this argument can be extended to all manner of pollutants. It is quite possible to ban all extraction of carbon-based fuels. Leave the oil and gas and coal in the ground. Such action is far more urgent than anything to do with plastics or tree-planting or re-wilding. It the absence of carbon emissions that will lead to a carbon-zero economy and have any chance of preventing societal breakdown and our own extinction.

The question begged is what will it take to make the laws required to curb the waste producers? The answer, after very little contemplation, has to be nothing less than a revolution. The capitalist system of competition and short-term profit simply won’t allow the producers to change their ways. To do so would be for them to go to the wall because someone else will be there waiting in the wings to take-over to make a fast buck.

The general ideas raised by this Christmas banter are unworthy of greater exploration. It may well allow individuals to feel better about themselves (and even save money in these austere times) to recycle last years Christmas cards and offer second-hand gifts wrapped in yesterday’s newspapers. But it won’t go anywhere near to having any impact at all on the still-accelerating levels of global heating and Ecocide.

Which is why the entire discussion is a distraction from the very urgent real challenges facing us. In fact, all this waste-less use-less individualism is just one more element of the climate denial propaganda constantly churned out on behalf of the producers. They advertise relentlessly to sell their must-have stuff and at the same time demand we feel guilty about having it. It’s a win-win strategy for the profiteers.

It’s not an either-or, but the amount of time spent individually on cutting-down on plastic waste and fuel-use needs to be balanced by the amount of time spent on challenging this polluting, wasteful and anti-human system that is responsible for the global destruction now upon us all. It may just be that buying a bath set, ready-wrapped and whisked out of the Pound Shop saves enough time to join the Non-Violent Direct Action outside Barclays Bank or BP! We really do need to get focussed upon exactly what actions are needed to save the World.

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