Christmas is a magical time of year. For many people that magic comes from watching little kids open mounds of presents. The twinkle in their eye as they tear through wrapping paper and squeal about the perfect gift is fun, but what happens to all those presents? Are they cherished forever and saved to be passed on to younger siblings, friends, or maybe to their own kids one day? Sadly, in most cases, they are not. The sheer volume, and poor quality of toys and goods these days result in kids quickly losing interest. The toys are then donated, and/or break and end up in the landfill. This masterfully crafted corporate design ensures we repeat this process year after year.
Harvesting the materials, production, packaging, shipping, and distribution of toys/goods is a linear system using an abundant amount of resources. Especially considering so many toys and goods are made to break in a relatively short time. This makes Christmas gifts a real drain on Mother Earth.
Therefore, one of the simplest ways to make Christmas more sustainable is to curb the tidal wave of toys that pour into the homes of the little children across the United States this time of year. I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but our kids have so much stuff already there’s not much they really need or want anymore. As a parent I think too much stuff can be overwhelming for them and quite honestly for me too. To simplify our Christmas we encourage our extended family to contribute towards larger gifts for our kids. Things like bikes, scooters, memberships to places like the zoo or a children’s park, or gifting an experience are great ways to ensure the presents are appreciated beyond the initial excitement experienced Christmas morning and they don’t wind up in a landfill or forgotten in the corner of someone’s room in a few short months.
Last year many of our family members gave money towards a trip to Disneyland. The five of us went for three days and had an amazing experience. Our kids had such a blast they’ve asked to do it again this year. We also have our kids create wish lists for the family who do want to purchase them small gifts. This compromise seems to work really well for our family because then my kids do get some presents, but it’s not so many they don’t appreciate what they receive. Additionally by making a list they ensure the presents they get are things they’re excited about, and hopefully won’t be bored with three months later.
Santa can be sustainably savvy as well. We’ve asked Santa to bring a single unwrapped gift for each child and leave it in their room. Santa is also very good at filling their stockings with a couple treats, but saves room for useful things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, reusable water bottles, and other goods we’d be buying anyway.
How does your family do gifts? Do you have some sustainable ideas for Christmas presents?
“We cannot buy a meaningful life. We can only live it.”