‘Tis the season for many many things! It may be to share, rekindle, be jolly or strike the harp and join the chorus and the world is joyous for many reasons too. For some because the Earth received her King, for others because they’ll unite with friends and family and for many others because the mere happening of Christmas as a US holiday is amazing in every way. During this season we give out in an effort to please and let our loved ones know that they are and have been present in our hearts throughout the year. We build dream worlds for our children, decorate our homes, dress up our pets, become the world’s most experienced bakers and suddenly contribute to a cause. All is wonderful but before we transform into meme-worthy yulephiles let’s take a quick dive into the unknown world of Christmas waste.
Holiday waste is a thing and a very real one. The ribbon spent during the season for gift wrapping is enough to wrap around the planet! Increased trash production from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve amounts to about one million tons per week and the majority of this waste will not be recycled, ending up in the landfill. Alarmingly, Americans spend well above 2.5 billion dollars in the decoration of about 50,000 Christmas trees per year of which 60% of will not be disposed of properly. The solution lies not in smashing the candy canes and rather being an earth-loving-tree-hugging Christmas grinch but in being informed and spending the holiday wisely.
Part of the blessings of living in the digital era is that we’ve come to value the practice of sharing virtually. We now appreciate the intangible and find value in the simple exchange of information. Billions of paper printed holiday cards are produced, sold and thrown away each year, enough to fill a US football field ten stories high, so why not make use of the perks of virtual sharing? Before you go crazy at the Hallmark section of your retail store think of the money and waste saved if instead you were to send out a beautifully animated e-card? And what about presents? There is a plethora of options to choose from that I can assure your loved ones will appreciate. Most if not all electronic games and software are now offered as digital downloads. Buy something through the PlayStation Store, Steam, iTunes or Google Play and send the link instead of buying the physical version. Once downloaded into the platform of choice the form doesn’t really matter. There are many other products offered digitally such as books, audiobooks, music and movies and please, do not give me the BluRay speech because HD quality downloads are as good as the prior! Don’t stop at digital, there are many other things that will surprise and brighten the gifted’s Christmas night. How about a spa certificate, a gym membership to start off the new year or even a travel voucher? And if paying for traveling plans sound like too much, how about the simple yet incredibly functional gift of a produce basket? Assemble a lovely basket full of fresh produce that you know is regularly consumed at the person’s household. If it goes to waste at least it’s biodegradable!
It is estimated that nearly 60% of Americans receive unwanted Christmas gifts that sadly go to waste without even bringing momentary joy. If you are still set on giving material gifts communication can be key in preventing holiday waste. Make sure you know what that particular person is eager to receive. The truth is most of us would rather be gifted with the joy of company, friendship and gathering instead of receiving a material object because after all, we are just a bunch of warm blooded, gooey hearted, social creatures looking for connection. Instead on fixating on what to or not to buy make yourself available for those you care about. Gift the wonder of relieving fun and past memories, gift the joy of sharing food and drink and gift the warmth of closeness. Chances are all that person wants for Christmas is you!