In George Monbiot's sights today is 'the festival of junk' associated with consumer spending at Christmas and wrecking the planet. It's a real dirge. By calling it that, I don't mean to say that he hasn't got a point at all. No doubt there is huge waste in amongst the presents people buy one another at this time of year. But it's the lack of balance in Monbiot's picture; you could be forgiven for forming the impression that no one ever gives or receives a wanted gift, and I know just from my own experience that this isn't true.
Though I'm in no position to contradict it, I have serious doubts about the claim that 'of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale'. One per cent?! First of all, in arriving at this figure, were all items extracted from the mix that you wouldn't expect to remain in use six months after sale - like foodstuffs, cleaning materials, cosmetics, medicines, stationery, fertilizers, etc? If not, so much the worse. And if so, well, I reassert my scepticism - in view of cars, beds, clothing, towels, building materials, white goods, kitchen implements, crockery, cutlery, furniture, books, music, TVs, radios, watches, and so forth.
However, that's just a detail. Overall, it's the imbalance that's so striking; as if giving others gifts were only a feature of rampant consumerism and was not an old and mostly benign human impulse, one expression of love, one expression of goodwill. Monbiot concludes his column thus:
Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for God's sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care.
Yeah, that's it. Hey kids, your Christmas present this year is that I'm telling you a joke. No, it'll be a joke AND a kiss. Does the guy even see that there might be a Scrooge-like dimension to this?
You want people to pay attention to THE CAUSE? Try not to give them the impression you're a walking misery. Junk journalism – will it be read six months from now?