Birthdays Without Pressure

You knew it was bound to happen, and a group of parents and professionals in St. Paul, Minnesota have come up with a campaign called Birthdays Without Pressure. After noting the endless circuit of parties and hoopla for young children in which they had become entangled, and observing the often endless pile of gifts each one adds to the inevitable mound of toys the child already has, they set about to stimulate a local and national debate on how to manage children’s birthdays without all that pressure and excess.As an environmentalist I certainly like the idea of fewer toys. Why? Well, let’s face reality… Beyond the issues of lead paint and the like, the inconvenient truth is that what’s creating the most problems with them environmentally is the sheer volume present in children’s homes and closets across the country. It’s taking energy to create them, increasing the drain on raw materials, and in the end creating even more of a mountain at the local landfill.

Now before you suggest I’m just being the Grinch here, let me relate a brief experience about a short trip I took to the home of an undisclosed acquaintance recently. They’d finally purchased their dream home, and in fact, it was quite beautiful… But the children’s rooms were already bursting with toys. I then headed down the stairs into the basement and there was another room overflowing with toys… But this one was roughly four times the size of each of the two children’s bedrooms, and I couldn’t even get into it! Next stop on the tour was the garage… And, of course, it contained even more toys. But my absolute favorite part of the tour was when I reached the den, where two small, adorable children were entertaining themselves by running and jumping all over the couches while wrestling with each other. For some odd reason, there was nary a toy in sight.

I certainly do suspect a reduction in toys is a positive thing, and the folks at Birthdays Without Pressure have some great ideas to reduce the influx at birthdays that inevitably accompanies their passing. Enjoy.

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