Opportunity to panic? Or to do different?
Supply chain issues have been all over the news of late.
Reporters and experts telling us, “If it’s on the shelf, buy it because it won’t be there long!”. Headlines scream, “Buy your Christmas gifts now, shelves are emptying!”, “Feeling Supply Chain Pain?”, “Where’s my stuff?”.
These unexamined statements lead to panic, panic buying and mindless consuming with the results being increased personal and financial stress and a whole lot of waste to our landfills.
Some facts on waste in Canada:
Within 6 months, only 1% of everything the average person buys is still in use, the other 99% has been discarded
545,000 tons of waste is generated from gift-wrapping and shopping bags each year
Household waste can increase more than 25% in the holiday season
less than 11 percent of plastics are recycled
There are many factors causing the current global and local supply chain demands: climate change, COVID 19, and a spike in consumer demand. Shoppers buying up products as quickly as they see them — and in large quantities — results in a shock on the supply chain that’s known as the “bull-whip effect.” “When you crack a whip, a small action at the hand propagates into a big effect at the end of the whip,” said Dr. P.K. Kannan, the Dean’s Chair in marketing science at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. “It is the same with supply chain — a small shock in demand upstream can create a big shock downstream”. 
Consumer demand has grown so quickly over the past two years, it’s equivalent to about 50 million new Americans joining the economy, according to Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, told Insider. 
What are we demanding though? Items we or the people we are buying for don’t need or want or will even use, ending up in our nearly full landfill?
Seeing the supply chain issues as a time of panic buying and hoarding items will not change the situation. Doing the same behavior over and over every time while expecting different results is not going to work. We have to do something different. This is an opportunity to do just that!
In an excellent article written by Carolyn Ali of UBC, Second-hand gifts, new experiences: shaking up holiday gift giving, Dr. White and Dr. Hardisty offer six strategies that can help us all start the shift to more sustainable gifting. 
1. Focus on the individual
2. Get creative with gift ideas
A gift doesn’t need to be tangible. “Research shows that gifts of experiences make people happier,” says Dr. Hardisty. “People enjoy them more and they connect you to other people.” There are plenty of creative gift ideas and ways to celebrate with less waste, says Dr. White, including offering people a service like babysitting, which they might appreciate more than anything else.
3. Ask people what they want
4. Tell people what you want
5. Make “second-hand” cool
6. Keep the traditions, reduce the stuff
Let’s take this opportunity to shift our attitudes and behaviours toward more sustainable gifting that can bring more than environmental benefits to us.
These shifts can lessen the negative and harmful impact of capitalism on our minds, spirits, and our wallets.