Green Santa and His Elves Visit Southside Shopping Centre

Local Extinction Rebellion group brings its message to Christmas shoppers

Green Santa and the Elves on a sleigh

December 21, 2022

This Saturday (17 December) Green Santa and his elves paid a Christmas visit to Wandsworth’s Southside shopping centre.

The group of environmental activists associated with Extinction Rebellion sang carols, handed out leaflets, talked to passers-by and danced to the tune of ‘Staying Alive’. Their question people in the centre was does showing love at Christmas really have to cost the Earth?

Adapting the Lyrics of Good King Wenceslas, the elves warned shoppers of the dangers over consumption.

‘Marketing is everywhere / Leading up to Christmas / Greedy corporations know / It’s time to do big business / Selling things that no-one needs / Pulling in more profit / It’s a silly fairground ride / We should all get o-o-ff it.’

Extinction Rebellion says that it estimated that if everyone in the world lived an average UK lifestyle, we’d need 2.7 Earths to sustain us. Its message is that Christmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill yet it is the occasion for an orgy of consumption. Every year £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents end up in landfill, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used and we throw away around 500 tonnes of Christmas lights.

Elves gave out leaflets rather than making presents for children
Elves gave out leaflets rather than making presents for children

In a year when we are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, for many people spending less this Christmas will be a necessity not a choice. Green Santa and the elves, all members of Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth, offered some suggestions that would help both the planet and the individual’s purse. These included buying presents from a charity shop or second-hand website, making new furniture and objects out of old or used things, reusing wrapping paper and giving homemade gifts like cakes, biscuits and sweets.

The group sang Christmas Carols with specially adapted lyrics
The group sang Christmas Carols with specially adapted lyrics

‘This sort of individual action isn’t going to solve the climate and ecological emergency we are facing,’ said Caroline Hartnell, a member of XR Wandsworth. ‘For that we will need to end the fossil fuel economy based on extraction and exploitation. But every little helps. Above all, we can show that another way of living is possible that isn’t based on wrecking our world through over-consumption and pollution.’

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