Christmas crackers – harmless fun or an ancient tradition?

Your family and their awful jumpers are seated. Steam is rising off the meal you’re about to devour. The crackers – before, set neatly beside your plates – are now held in a chain around the table. The countdown draws to an end and…

An underwhelming ‘snap’ comes from the few of you who have managed to open it on the first try without yanking granny’s arm off.

Christmas is here. Just what we need – a holiday that celebrates consumerism and waste. The paper hat that slid over your eyes twice has now ripped after you weren’t gentle enough moving back up. But now, the best part comes – the food. Remember, Greta Thunberg sailed over the Atlantic twice, so that means it’s okay for you to eat like there’s no tomorrow. There soon won’t be for people in the Maldives, their country becoming a modern-day Atlantis – but you needn’t worry, Greta’ll sort it.

Christmas has become synonymous with excess.

The meal is over, so what’s next? Ahh yes, the presents. The presents which have been ordered, shipped, unpacked and re-wrapped, all because tradition deems it good ‘n’ proper. Your eyes move up from your plate past the sweaters – yes, yours is as ugly as theirs – to the tree. Now, the tree might be your one saving grace, depending on what you do with it come the New Year. But I’ll assume that yours, like the vast majority of others, will end up in landfill.

Christmas presents under the tree

After struggling to get up from the table you plop yourself down on the sofa, perhaps wishing you’d had fewer potatoes. As the presents are handed out, a childlike glee builds up in you. Any thoughts of the environment are long gone – your eyes are on your prize. You viciously tear into the package, only to find… a shower gift set. Oh. Your disappointment grows, much like the pile of waste around you. Socks. A book. A giftcard! But it’s only for £15.

You get the picture. Christmas has become synonymous with excess. Our society is pushing the government to do more for the environment, and then we throw away all moral high-ground for the sake of… Christmas? And justify the crackers to me. The toy inside is something plastic that will be eaten by the dog or thrown in the bin, the hats don’t work, and even my grandpa has given up on their jokes. My grandparents have taken to making their own crackers out of last year’s wrapping paper (which they ask us to not tear into) and toilet paper tubes. Ironically, they are far less crap.

But statistics on waste over Christmas are no joke. GWP Group, a packaging service, state: “UK residents will waste 54 million platefuls of food during December”. They found that it takes 33 million trees to produce all the Christmas cards Brits send to each other. And that 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used on our presents (as of 2011!). Our naivety concerning our effect on the environment has dissipated, yet we still charge forth into supermarkets to stock up on food we can’t be sure we will eat. This kind of behaviour needs to be left with our predecessors. Every generation before us has made mistakes we should have been able to learn from.

How we celebrate Christmas has to change.