Sunday, December 23, 2007

Showing Holiday Cheer in the Christmas Landfill

The Holiday season is a very odd season, I do enjoy celebrating and the people getting together, reminiscing. Though to be honest New Years, Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving are more of my favorites probably because they have so much to do with food and drink. The reason it is odd, is that much of the season is obligatory in fashion which causes guilt, stress and a sense of owing. Now a lot of this seasons is about showing you care about those around you, and that is through gifting. I too fell in this trap, since there is someone dear to me that I decide to get a gift for. But I'm not sure I got a meaningful gift but I did want to get this person something. Ahhh the stress!

Now magnify this manyfold and you realize that there is a lot of stuff sitting around unused after the initial excitement has worn off, or in my case there are many things that I have left unopened. In fact I regifted one of them at a White Elephant exchange recently. Now much of this does end up getting tossed in landfills, and it also took the energy to make and dispose of these items. This is so apparent when you go to Target or Macy's or JC Pennys' and they have sectioned dedicated to gifts for him (which is all novelty stuff that is going to break or pile up. (my favorite thing that made me go ugg is this towel warmer Electric generated heat is crap efficiency, and to me the fewer electrical plugs near water sources is generally a good policy).

The same happens in corporate settings. A lot of my jobs have been in places that specialize in corporate chotkes. This year we received a very nice gift, I just can't bear to wear it, since I have an equally nice one that still has a lot of life in it. (There is something to be said for giving cash since it can be used for what you need, but with me I just put it in the bank, so I do believe in helping people enjoy life in some way).

Now I've suggested about the damage that this stuff does to the planet, since it is resource based and it's not renewable or consumable in most case. It's interesting to see that many of the people who are completely trapped in debt, also feel they have to get gifts for others even though they are the least able to afford it. So they increase their stress. It's as if they feel a need to prove their care (and I think I fell into that above as I mentioned). It gets even worse when people feel they have to buy season specific decorations every year. Because there are new latest and greatest decorations. (For instance, is buying an LED based Christmas lights better than keeping your old ones. Tough call. But if the old ones go into the landfill, I say pass. The energy difference I haven't calculated, but I think it's negligible.)

Now gift giving is a major part of the human condition, in fact it may be ingrained in our primal sense. Animals will bring a token of food to a prospective mate. So are there ways to celebrate the season and show your care without bankrupting yourself or the earth. The Chinese give red envelopes of cash, I think there might be something better (and I'm not talking gift cards). Thoughts?


At 9:17 AM , Blogger Green Bean said...

The Chinese red envelope thing isn't so bad. For our sitter this year, I just gave her extra cash and a reusable water bottle. The obligatory gifts for me this year were all teachers and my husband's staff. They are pretty unavoidable. I tried to stick to consumables (local wine, local balsamic vinegar, homemade jam, local grass fed beed) and some Heifer International gifts.


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