To reduce waste

Christmas unwrapped… or was that unpackaged?

How to give thoughtful gifts and keep money in the community while reducing the amount of waste and garbage involved.

Christmas Care, by Sue Davies on behalf of the North Columbia Environmental Society

‘Tis the season… What season is that you might say? Well it’s the season for joy and good will, for giving and for loving, for family gatherings and making contact with absent friends… isn’t it?

So where did we all get the notion that “ ‘tis the season for buying stuff”?

The other day I was in a large store looking for a single item that I actually needed. I went inside, got completely sidetracked and filled up my shopping cart with a whole heap of stuff I didn’t really need. Overwhelmed by the onslaught of advertising, overlarge packaging, bright colors, and images making the contents look stunningly attractive, I had bought into the dreaded pre-Christmas feeling that I had to buy things in order to show my love to family and friends.

I was just setting off down the children’s toy aisle when I realized how big most of the items were. In many cases the actual item was quite small, it was just the package that was big. That got me thinking. What sort of gifts was I going to give this Christmas? Would I give over-packaged trinkets that will be forgotten by the New Year or something new and different? I unloaded my shopping cart and decided to be more thoughtful about my gifts.

Sue Davies

So what do you do if, like me, you care about excessive consumption of our planet’s raw materials, about unnecessary waste, and about the pollution produced in the manufacture and transport of all this stuff, not to mention the fact that your friends and family already have all the stuff they could possibly want or need?

Fortunately there is another option. Instead of giving an object as a gift this Christmas, give the gift of an awesome experience instead! Think how much fun it would be to give the gift of cross-country ski rental for a day with the promise that you will accompany your friend. Or maybe a voucher for an après-ski massage might be in order. There are any number of non-object gifts to give; a manicure, a ticket to Sky-Trek or The Enchanted Forest, an iTunes gift card, music lessons, concert tickets, movie dollars, cooking lessons, museum passes, art courses… the list is endless.

For those bigger spenders among us, consider giving the gift of a course such as those offered at Outward Bound or the Educo Adventure School located at 100 Mile House – a life changing experience if ever there was one. If you are watching the pennies as well as the environment you could consider giving a gift of your own time. In our busy lives we often forget how precious the gift of time and personal attention really is. Make up your own gift certificate promising to spend a whole day doing what ever your child loves best, or to take your friend for a special day out, or to cook a special meal. The best part is that you get to enjoy the experience and build on your relationship too!

For a friend in need of a break from the daily grind, the gift of having a meal delivered can be the best gift out there. You can choose from several of the restaurants around town that deliver, or better still, deliver your own home cooked masterpiece.

Yes, yes I know! Your friend or family member might be disappointed not to receive a huge, plastic wrapped and boxed gift. When you choose to give the gift of an experience like those mentioned above, let your friend or family member know that you have chosen this type of gift mostly because you know they will treasure the experience, but also because it is eco-friendly. Maybe after they enjoy the experience you have given them they will join the crowd and start giving non-object gifts too.

So this season, remember that loving and giving are the real reason for the season but that the giving part does not necessarily require heaps of packaging. Giving comes in many forms, and the gift of an experience may well be treasured more than a trinket. Moreover, remember that by giving an experience rather that an object, you are also giving the gift of a more sustainable future to our planet.

For an entertaining tour of stuff see www.thestoryofstuff.com

Sue Davies will contribute a four-part series on behalf of the North Columbia Environmental Society. The series runs until April, 2011.

 

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