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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 05/11/2006

For decades now Ive felt a real aversion for going into shops in the run up to Christmas. It isnt just the crowds that put me off I find it offensive to see how much of the worlds resources are squandered on needless presents and baubles. A few years ago my extended family agreed that instead of a mammoth present exchange we should just receive and give one present each. Everyone even the young folk agree this is much better. Id go so far as to say it has enhanced how I feel about Christmas. Instead of rushing about buying and tying up gifts, there is now more time to focus on whats really important spending time with family and bringing some genuine warmth and light into a potentially bleak time of year.

Given the importance of green issues this is the type of calculation that more people need to make. I know it is hard. Being part of the world, and trying to function fully in it, means that it is too easy to follow established patterns in lifestyle whether that be fashion, housing or travel rather than do what would be more environmentally sound. But at the margins there are always things we can do like using public transport more and not consuming when we know there is little point.

This is also true of business choices. Another of my bugbears is marketing items most of which end up in the bin. Every time I speak and Im handed a gift my heart sinks in case it is another etched glass paperweight, letter opener or silver quaich complete with logo. I also dislike conference goodie bags. I spoke at an event the other day and couldnt get over how many resources were used up in giving out weighty conference satchels with tons of brochures, pads, pens and even a book of photographs. Im sure that many of those who attended had no interest in this stuff and have either left it mouldering in their car or have chucked it into a corner in their office to be thrown out at a later date.

One of the decisions we took at the Centre recently, and which pleases me greatly, is to stop giving out materials at events. Weve never given out conference bags or the like but we have produced folders with lots of handouts. At our latest conferences at the Hub, we simply gave out a few essential bits of paper, such as the timetable, and then gave participants a URL where they can view and download materials. This means that participants can review all the powerpoints from the event as well as access some background material. If people want hard copies then they can print them out for themselves if they dont then were not wasting paper.

On our agenda for the next Centre staff meeting is what else we can do to become a sustainable business. And I dont think Im jumping the gun to say that we wont be producing Centre Christmas cards or putting a tree up in the office.

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