‘Tis the season to remember that most of the world is not Zero/Low Wasters. ‘Tis the season to remember that most of the world does not watch their plastic consumption. We are in the midst of the Christmas season that starts sometime before Halloween, and ends sometime after New Years Day.
The idea of giving gifts during Christmas, ironically, came from the Pagans. Pagans during December gave small home-made gifts to celebrate the Gods of Agriculture. Christians were determined to take-over the Pagans, so they knew they had to make a holiday to rival the Pagan December holiday. They knew that they could not give up gift-giving, or they would get backlash. The actual birthday of Jesus is unknown and not stated in the Bible, so Christians decided to celebrate it during the Pagans most popular December holiday. Gift giving was celebrated throughout the ages, but again, nothing huge. Often it was wooden homemade gifts or fruits and nuts.
In 1867 Macy’s in New York City opened its doors for 24 hours, just to promote gift giving for Christmas. Other companies and stores followed their example. Santa starts to become a symbol of Christmas at this point. So Macy’s and other corporations took over Christmas, sort of like the Christians took over the Pagan holiday. It is now a day for corporations to sell their useless junk. Most people cannot list the things they got the year before. What happened to small homemade gifts? I would rather get a poem from my loved ones than the latest electronic or plastic thing.
If you are a Minimalist and/or Zero Waste-er receiving tangible gifts, it feels like clutter and a burden. Most gift givers do not understand our pain. Most gift givers think they are spreading joy. Stuff is way to show our affection, most gift givers reason. My mother likes to give my kids the Christmas catalog she receives from Target or JC Penney’s. She ask my kids to circle what they want for Christmas. No matter how many times I tried to tell my mom to stop this practice, she just does not. She likes the fun, my kids seem to be having as they are circling. While I cannot change her, I can maybe encourage some edits. Nothing hurts the environment more than plastics that are multicolored or smaller than 2.5 inches. While recycling plastic is hard, the multiple colors and small sizes make it impossible. Stocking stuffers are the worst Christmas gifts given. The only things that fit into the stocking is small plastics and refined sugar treats. So stocking stuffers are either bad for our health or bad for the earth. That is why I have started to promote mandarin oranges as stocking stuffers.
Why oranges? Oranges were the grandest of gifts during the mid-1800s. Today 94% of foods and goods are shipped into us but anytime before the 1850s most people were stuck with only local foods and goods. When the railroad was put in place in 1855 all the sudden sweet oranges that were native to California and Florida could now be sold everywhere. Many kids in the 1850s only wanted an orange for Christmas. Ohh, those were the days! If your family has been in the United States since the 1800s, chances are your great-great parents got an orange for Christmas. Getting an orange for Christmas is as American as apple pie. Let’s bring it back.
Christmas has had a lot of incarnations. I believe we can bring back a Christmas without the plastic and excessive stuff. Like Christians did so long ago, they edited the December Pagan holiday without giving up the fun. We Zero/Low Wasters have to show that its still fun, but with a quarter of consumerism. Anyone want to start Zero/Low Waste caroling? Make songs that promote time spent with people as fun, rather than giving stuff. Can we come up with a version of Santa Claus that moves away from all this refined sugar and plastic? Maybe I will make this GreenThinker DC project for the coming year. In the meantime, like our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Also, ‘tis the season to give to charity. Consider giving to GreenThinker DC. We are currently working with daycares to reduce their waste. A mere $15 goes a long way. If you would like the contribution to be monthly, we would be ever grateful. Environmental Nonprofits get the least amount of charity dollars. Cancer, homelessness, and education usually get most the charity dollars during the Christmas season. We thank you for considering giving outside of popular causes.