It will come as no surprise to most of us that as a society we’re spending beyond our means. At Christmas time in particular we give our credit cards a jolly good work out. The retail industry is the second largest employer in Australia and the storage industry is experiencing massive growth. The fact is we’ve run out of room to store our stuff. And overconsumption is having the same effect on the planet. Unfortunately, Earth doesn’t have the option of off-site storage.

Associate Professor in Marketing, Martin Grimmer, says small changes can make all the difference to our own back pockets and the planet. We just need to adopt a holistic view when purchasing. 

“We’re not only spending beyond our personal means, but also beyond the means that the planet can sustain,” he said. 

Australians owe about $130 for every $100 that they earn. Around Christmas time, between November and February, Australians will put approximately $70b on credit cards.

"The average Australian household wastes about $1300 a year in goods and services that they don’t actually use. More broadly, each individual Australian produces about a tonne of waste every year. It’s got to go somewhere, and eventually we’re going to run out of places for it to go."

The psychology behind consumer behaviour fascinates Associate Professor Grimmer, which is great, because he is helping uncover ways to change it for the better. 

"You can’t tell people not to buy things at Christmas. But with a bit of self-monitoring, we can improve our own financial liability and the environmental cost to the planet at the same time. It’s a win win."

“For consumers to be able to buy environmentally friendly products they have to know what they are."

Look at ways to reduce the amount of car time that you have. Buy presents closer to home. Look at where products come from and where possible buy local. Consider packaging – less packaging is better. And ask yourself, do I need this?

Associate Professor Grimmer says that often people don’t feel that they can make a difference.

“It’s quite the opposite. You don’t have to change your behaviour very much to have a positive impact on the planet.” 

About Martin Grimmer

Associate Professor Martin Grimmer is the Deputy Dean of the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics (TSBE). He researches consumer behaviour, specifically ethical and pro-environmental consumer behaviour.

View Martin Grimmer's full researcher profile