It is a well-known fact that humans seek happiness in their lives. Throughout the history of civilization, sages and philosophers have discussed the topic of happiness. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the topic of happiness. Indeed, many campuses around the world discuss this topic under the new subject of “positive psychology” that focuses on the positive emotions, relationships, and the meaning of personal life and achievements in elevating the experience of happiness.
When it comes to human activities that can bring us happiness, the Christmas season carries a very special status. The overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm. During the season, billions of dollars are spent on gifts, ties with extended family and friends are renewed and enough time is spent in engagement in activities such as feasting, caroling and tree decoration.
But Christmas is also season when we create a lot of waste.
According to Statista, an online market research firm, Americans will spend about $900 billion this Christmas season. Based upon the data from National Retail Federation, Americans returned $260 billion in merchandise to retailers after the 2016 Christmas season. These returned goods have a huge environmental impact. The returned items enter in another cycle of shipping and re-selling, and as a result cause an increase in our carbon footprint. A significant quantity of unwanted items, packing and wrapping materials also turn up in the landfills.
Considering that the U.S. has the second-highest carbon footprint in the world, it is important to incorporate green initiatives in our celebration of the Christmas season. Some options are the recycling of unused and unwanted gifts, choosing gifts with minimum wrapping and packing materials, homemade gifts and communal gifts that family and friends can share together such as movie tickets and holiday vouchers.
To boost our experience that may be considered of happiness during the Christmas season, empathy for our environment is necessary. Our positive relation with the environment can help us to connect with nature in a meaningful sense. By being mindful about our environment when celebrating the Christmas season we can partly fulfill our responsibility as a sustainable American citizen.
KHALIQUE AHMED, BOCA RATON
Editor’s note: Khalique Ahmed is a professor and chairman of the Science Division at Lynn University.