Iceland made headlines this holiday season by not making a Christmas advert.

We’re talking about Iceland the British supermarket chain (not the country, which we imagine produces quite special Christmas-themed content.) Iceland decided this year not to release its standardly awaited Christmas advert, a long-held tradition amongst similar UK chains (most rack up millions of views and star celebrities), due to the rising cost of living. Apparently, in order to “support its customers” during a difficult period and to avoid adding further pressure to the holiday spending season, the chain chose to refrain from making the umpteenth Christmas advert[1].

2023 is expected to see advertisers spend a record amount of £9.5bn during the Christmas season[2]. Unsurprisingly, we commonly spend more this season than any other, and 2023 sales look likely to outstrip previous years[3].

The Christmas season presents such a fundamental time for retailers to make money, that a nationwide chain not making an advert actually makes headlines.

So, in line with the rest, SuperNaturale is releasing its Hero of the Month, our series dedicated to our heroes, love letters to products, species, things, that are all-round champions in the fight against the climate crisis. This edition, our HOM is Nothing. Nothing, nada, zilch. The absence of something. No hero, no product. To combat climate breakdown the best thing you can buy is nothing. Consume nothing. Nothing extra. We don’t need extra. This is not a revolutionary statement. Most ‘green’ companies and organisations like to publish something similar this time of year, encouraging reduced spending.

However, ‘nothing’, whilst simplifying your Christmas shopping, is a challenge many are unwilling to pull off.

So, whilst our ‘Hero’ will remain a strict Nothing, we want to talk about the logic of substitution. Shopping according to a substitutive logic. We don’t require that microwavable scarf from Amazon this Christmas. We don’t require that self-massaging foot roller.

What does Christmas require?

Wine. Few people celebrate without it. And this is where substitution comes in: wine made with respect for the planet is the best choice one can make. Must you buy wine? Then SuperNaturale encourages you to buy organic, biodynamic, natural wine, produced with care for the earth’s resources and the wildlife around which it is grown. Must you buy pasta? We encourage you to buy the least industrial and least chemical pasta possible, which promotes biodiversity, diversification of grain varietals and an artisanal way of producing tasty carbohydrates. You can find some listed here.

Need vegetables? Buy ones in season (enough zucchini in December). Need something else? Then buy something that is not made of plastic. Or that is locally produced. Or that is made of organic cotton. Or that is produced with renewable energy. Or is second-hand. Where we can afford it, these are the expenses that are worth it: the ones that replace a classic purchase with a better one.

In particular, this year we wanted to mention Vin Vox, a small upcycling company based in Rome. The owner, a Florida native, takes rusty vinyl players, adorable vintage radios and speakers from all eras of the 20th century and restores them, returning them to their former functional splendour, or even modernising them by adding Bluetooth and other wireless functions. The old becomes new again (and we may be able to get old without buying too much new). So if you must buy a speaker, buy one of these.

Whilst December’s hero will remain Nothing, ‘nothing’ is not always acceptable. When this is the case, let us replace our traditional consumptions with more ecological and more ethical purchases. Happy holidays from SuperNaturale.

[1] https://news.sky.com/story/iceland-scraps-christmas-ad-due-to-cost-of-living-crisis-13008690

[2] Advertising Association and the World Advertising Research Centre, 2023.

[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/holiday-retail-sales-consumer-survey.html