By Hon MP Greg Hunt
Around early December last year I read something that I thought was really shocking. For years I just assumed all the billions of meters of Christmas tinsel and its related products was produced by Santa’s elves in the North Pole but to my dismay I found out that it’s largely produced in China.
It turns out Santa has followed the likes of Apple and Nike to outsource his tinsel production to sweatshops across Asia. Maybe the elves started to unite by demanding a living wage, maybe it was Santa’s great idea to spread some Xmas cheer to those heathen Chinese, whatever the case is now when you check the made in ____ tag you often see China. Turns out “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home of 600 factories that rapidly produce over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” which are the staffs in these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day. All day long they whistled Christmas songs in a gay and jolly manner happy to do Santa’s dirty work. Spending all day sucking in those paints and plastic fumes if it wasn’t for the carcinogenic effects, it would be like breathing in Christmas, lucky them.
Then to add to education process I discovered tinsel wasn’t made from the hair of unicorns with rainbow coloured manes. Instead tinsel is made from polyvinyl chloride getting its shiny finish from metallization, which is performed by heating and evaporating a metal such as aluminium under a vacuum and condensing it into plastic to leave a thin coating.
Santa also outsourced some of it to a town in Wales, UK. The Wale people, a different breed of elf to the Chinese, produce 148,750 metres of tinsel per month and just over 11.9million metres of tinsel per year. Knowing exactly how industrious those Chinese elves are, who knows how many millions of meters 600 factories produces. Whatever may be the case and independent that the fact it’s just another thoughtless consumption fulfilling our extravagant and obscene western whims, my Xmas just wouldn’t be the same without it. So yeah Chinese elves, Wales elves or who is now in charge of tinsel products, keep producing rapidly, making billions of meters of plastic glittering stuff people use once a year, discard or just keep more of it.
Santa is not charity, he is an international corporation whose profit and wealth requires us to keep buying things, and this includes tinsel people. If you want Santa to remain a viable enterprise we need to mindlessly keep buying all Santa related things starting from the gifts, decorations, turkeys and the new things Santa/Corporate America comes up with like the NSA sponsored spy elf. This ensures the “Christmas spirit” of unquestioned and unfettered consumption continues to our children’s children, assuming humans still exist . I am sure Santa has his reasons he outsourced tinsel production to China, although Wales that’s more puzzling. The guys need to turn a profit, that’s only fair. So next Xmas I will be going to the local dollar shop and buying even more tinsel knowing somewhere in China I will be making one Santa Asian elves work a little bit harder and doing so will make Santa little bit happier and who doesn’t want a happy Santa?
Australian Minister for the Environment
Acting Minister for Cities and the Built Environment
Member for Flinders, Victoria