I love to write stories that have a benign effect on the environment and I set up the free Green Stories writing competitions to encourage more writers to do the same.
But Father Christmas is probably the biggest example of a fictional story that has had a widespread negative impact on the environment, encouraging widespread consumption, often of stuff that we wouldn’t buy for ourselves, wrapped in impossible-to-recycle shiny paper, and often thrown away or left taking up space in the back of a cupboard.
It’s been estimated that if we all lived like we do in the UK we’d need 3-4 planets – over 5 planets if we lived like the US. But we only have one and the world is waking up to how precious it is. Unnecessary consumption is a big part of our environmental challenges such as waste, carbon emissions, plastic in the sea etc.
Martin Lewis, money saving expert came out again on the topic of Christmas presents, suggesting that the best gift we can give is a non-present pact, releasing us from the burden of having to decide what to do with unwanted presents and releasing others from the dilemma of what to buy.
Okay, we can keep Santa, but maybe he needs a makeover. Let’s return the emphasis to children only, one quality present, not tons of tat, and maybe tucked into the Christmas stocking a story such as Santa Claus Is Green!: How to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas (Little Green Books) by Alison Inches and Wednesday Kirwan
Or for the adults, here is an extract from ‘The North Pole Is Going Green’
‘I’m melting my own North Pole. Imagine being told that you’re complicit in destroying—irrevocably —the homes, health, and happiness of the very children whose dreams you’ve dedicated your life to fulfilling. But I won’t let daunting news steal the twinkle from my eye. This emergency demands action, so today I’m announcing: No more Christmas-as-usual. To realize my dream of a white Christmas, I’m going “green” myself. Because your children are telling me what they really want and it’s not light-up sneakers or Xboxes. They deeply yearn for only two things: Your love and a future. A future they can grow into with joyful anticipation, one characterized by kindness—to animals, grandmothers, the poor, kids orphaned by tsunamis, and those hungry in ravaged lands…
…I’ll start by reducing the volume of presents. From now on, the Nice will receive only one gift each—battery-free, Earth-friendly, and likely to fire the imagination. I’ll feature recycled toys, science kits, sidewalk chalk, and “pre-owned” costumes, books, and musical instruments. There will be more off-the-couch-and-out-the-door gifts, such as fishing poles, kites, and skateboards, all wrapped in yesterday’s comics or scrap fabric. And to give your kids more play time with you, I’ll slip theater tickets and hiking guides into your stockings’DeMocker, M., 2014. The North Pole Is Going Green!: A New Christmas Story, in Which Santa Has an Epiphany. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 21(1), pp.145-147.