Move Over Secret Santa – Elfless Acts Are The New Black

Shocking statistics suggest that 99% of the presents we buy each year are not being used just six months on, and already on their way to landfill or even worse, the ocean. This only speeds up the ticking time bomb of the dire warning that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the seas than fish.

As a result, a brand new idea has been launched to keep making the season one filled with joy and fun, but avoiding unnecessary waste, and it’s proving popular with the everyone, especially the millennials.

Instead of giving stuff, the Elfless acts concept, developed by the GAP charity, lets us give something a little more personal, planet happy and valuable.

Fun without stuff?

As an expert in the psychology of happiness, and Christmas fun aficionado, they asked me to check it out. It sounded like an intriguing challenge – but could they really make being nice to the planet cool, interesting and fun, so that it appeals to everyone, not just the diehard tree huggers?

If not, it’s unlikely to make much tangible difference…so, feeling like an intrepid David Attenborough, almost, I headed over to the website to see what all the fuss was about.

First impressions

Oh, hello. Not an oatmeal palleted, serious and significant ‘welcome fish murderers, we’re all doomed’ website – instead I’m greeted with a sparkly, funky front page. This is good, they seemed to have cracked the ‘first impressions count’ rule of psychology, and then some.

But what of the Elfless acts themselves- can we replace the simplicity and ease of a gift, the excitement of unwrapping with a non-material thing?

Well they seem to have thought this one through too-

Cool and engaging ideas are presented like:

I promise you a movie date of your choice. I won’t complain about what we see and we can get the popcorn YOU like.
Or maybe: your present from me this year is a personalised treasure hunt! Clues, joy and wonder. You’ll love it, promise.
Long week? I’ll make sure there’s an emergency beer in the fridge for you. That Friday feeling just got better…
And you have the option to make your own promises too

They even come as a cool voucher, which you print yourself, or email to your loved one.

Yes, I like this, it really seems to tick the key boxes of motivation; it’s interesting; excitingly presented; easy to use; has important message, but isn’t blaming or shaming.

Will it make a difference?

Well it seems to be getting a lot of interest generally on social media, with #morefunlessstuff hashtag showing up in trends, and it elicits positive responses from the people I’ve checked it out with, but, hey, what do you think? Apparently we will require three earths to support us based on the rate we’re currently consuming stuff at, so something needs to be done, and this could be a small step in the right direction, what do you think, more fantastic than plastic?


Presents to landfill: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution.

Plastics in the ocean: The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics.