AS the dust settles on a fraught General Election campaign, we are left wondering what will happen next. Brexit, the issue which dominated the media narrative around the election and the reason the election was called in the first place, remains unresolved. Scottish independence, which was the main campaigning tool for the Scottish Conservatives, begins its next chapter. It may look like the more things change, the more they stay the same, but it does feel as though things will never be the same again.

It was a tough election for the Scottish Greens to get heard, but we succeeded in making sure the climate emergency remained on the agenda. At local hustings across Scotland we pushed candidates of all the other parties to be clearer about what they will do to address this crisis. Now we will continue to hold those who have been elected to account on this.

Some, like Boris Johnson, refused to even turn up to debate. Tories followed his lead in Scotland and were frequently “empty chaired” at environment hustings. That flagrant dismissal of the existential crisis facing life on Earth is very worrying indeed.

Many candidates paid lip service to the climate emergency, talking about net-zero targets rather than any of the transformational changes we need to reach them. Some, like the SNP’s Alyn Smith in Stirling and Labour’s Ian Murray in Edinburgh, tried to appear as greens. Both of those men printed leaflets in our colours. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to send in their membership dues to us.

Of course, with the election over, what really happens next is the festive period. There will be little time for any of us to lie in a darkened room.

For those of us fighting to be heard on the campaign trail, buying presents and other preparations had been postponed. Like the election result, that is another reality that will begin to kick in.

The Christmas songs are playing in every shop. The war of the TV adverts is in full swing. We are bombarded by images of people having a wonderful time, surrounded by an opulent feast and several gifts.

Of course, eating, drinking, spending time with family and the giving of gifts is what this festival is all about. But there is an intense cultural pressure to have the perfect Christmas, and this quest for perfection can take its toll, both on wellbeing and financially.

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In the age of austerity, for many this pressure is harder than ever. There are some alarming statistics on festive spending and debt. The Money Advice Trust has warned that a third of people in the UK are borrowing money to pay for presents this Christmas. Sadly, this also means even less money the essentials. One in five will be taking on credit to pay for food, while the Trussell Trust has predicted more people than ever are expected to need a food bank ahead of Christmas.

There is no sign of the pressure to spend at Christmas abating, however. Black Friday and incessant adverts encourage unhealthy levels of consumerism, and people in the UK are set to spend an average of two weeks’ wages in the run-up to Christmas. How many of those panic purchases end up on landfill?

Notions like second-hand Christmas or buy-nothing Christmas are gaining popularity, and no wonder. The rampant consumerism and feverish spending associated with Christmas is not sustainable. It can leave those who are struggling financially or who may be spending Christmas alone feeling left out.

Christmas is a time of giving, but this doesn’t have to mean expensive gifts. It could be our love, attention or even just our time. It could mean donating some food to your local food bank or visiting a relative or friend who you know will be alone this Christmas.

Buying second-hand from your local charity shop can be an ethical, sustainable way to purchase high-quality gifts for your family and friends. Not only will you save money, but you can feel good about the fact you are supporting a charity. Gifting experiences rather than objects is also an option. A picnic for two in the park (once the weather gets warmer!) or a free cookery class can say just as much as the latest gadget, and the memories they create may just be more permanent.

As for the election, with all the focus on a bah-humbug Brexit, you could be forgiven for thinking we were electing a government just to take us through the next few months. But our votes weren’t just for Christmas, they were to elect MPs who could sit for half the time climate scientists tell us we have left to keep global warming under control.

That’s why my new year’s resolution will be to continue to hold all the other parties to account on this, and make sure they match any warm words with action.