Photo courtesy of ClintJCL
Remember when you were a kid, and you didn’t quite get exactly what you wanted for Christmas? And then you whined and complained like it was the end of the world? Well, it turns out that nasally-voiced, impossibly immature younger you might have been onto something. Every year, crappy Christmas presents are literally ruining the planet.A Waste of Christmas
You see, every Christmas, or that ol’ American orgy of consumerism, as I like to call it, just about every resident of our great nation spends an average of $800 on Christmas presents. How many of those gifts are going to suck and end up in a landfill by the year’s end, after the year-or-so-long posterity period of keeping them for appearances is over? Plenty—around 50 percent of Christmas gifts hit the trash within a year, generating tons of waste, according to one study.
And then together, we buy 2.65 billion Christmas cards—enough to fill a 10 story football stadium, according to Recycling Works. Are all of those cards really necessary? That’s an awful lot of artificial Hallmark sentiment-laden cardboard with which to deliver 20 dollar bills to nephews and cousins.
To make matters worse, 40 percent of battery sales take place in the holiday season—many of which will power remote controlled cars and electronics that won’t last out the year.
The point is that every year, in our mad dash to sate the perceived gift-requirements of the holidays, we end up buying way more than we need to. We can’t help it—it’s in our blood. We’ve been reared on excess, and you buy your cousin that present not because you think he could really use a deluxe plastic travel Martini kit, but because you feel like if you don’t buy something, anything, you fail.
And thus, unwanted presents and the wrapping paper they came in and the cards taped to the outside of them end up as trash, at different intervals over the coming year.
Beating the Consumerist Christmas (W)Rap
But there’s hope: According to the Center for the New American Dream, a whopping 70% of Americans would welcome a decreased emphasis on gift giving. The problem is, the act is so wrapped up (pardon the pun) in our consumer culture that extricating the practice would take a massive paradigm shift. Or a few more near-Great Depressions, at least.
So let’s do what we can to start steering this destructive trend into a more sustainable direction: this means more e-cards, more recycled packaging, and most importantly, thoughtfulness. Yes, it sounds sappy, but if we really think, and consult wish lists, we can find gifts that’ll be kept out of the garbage. (For starters, here are 15 Gifts that nobody needs) And if you’re still at a loss, seriously—donate to a charity in the gift receiver’s name. Your cousin may moan now, but he’ll probably still like it better than that tacky wool Christmas sweater you were going to get him.