Monday, December 22, 2008

When Wrapping Becomes Obscene

Bird goes to a Go Green school. It is one of many reasons we adore his elementary school. And oh, do we adore it! His teacher (who rocks!) and principle share ideas with us every week to help us treat the earth in a gentler and kinder way. It's wonderful to see my children engaged in protecting the environment. What astounds me is the vernacular in their young conversations. Recycle. Reuse. Land fill. Soil content. Run off. Pollution. I assure you that I did not know these terms until about college when we started recycling all those Beast cans and bottle of white zin for the times we were feeling fancy. The other thing that makes me take note is that all of us, including the smallest of children, can have a hand, and indeed a responsibility, to help clean up our planet. The smallest, most inconsequential of acts can be enormous in aggregate. And by teaching our children a green lifestyle, we are giving them a gift. A gift of responsibility, civic engagement, sense of community, and a cleaner, healthier earth.

Christmas is perhaps the most un-Green of holidays, despite its evergreens and color scheme. The tinsel, garland, bows, plastic lawn ornaments, energy sucking light displays, blow up lawn art, boxes, styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap (fun as it is to pop), greeting cards, fake snow. And that's not even including the damn toy packaging. Seriously, is it really necessary to require scissors, a regular screwdriver, phillips screw driver, pliers, wire cutters, and gorilla teeth to open a box of Little People and a Hot Wheels race track?

Wrapping paper is lovely, but let's be honest, it is a waste. A. Waste. Kids don't give a damn if you use the comics or fancy three-ply metallic embossed paper. And if the adults in your life care, they deserve coal. Pththtpthth (That's my attempt at a raspberry in onomatopoeia). So I struggle with the gift wrap thing at every birthday and tend to reuse gift bags. So I apologize if I have returned your gift bag. I assure you I am not regifting the gift. Unless it is the Lorax. We have three copies.

Tips for wrapping presents from our Go Green school: Instead of gift bags, buy reusable totes which come in all shapes and sizes! Instead of wrapping paper, reuse newspaper, brown paper bags, old posters or maps, pictures from calendar pages or heck, even old wrapping paper! It's fun to have the kids help decorate the brown paper bags with ink and stampers, stickers, markers, and my personal favorite (cough, cough) glitter glue. No one cares about the crinkles. They only care about the present inside. And I can't help you out there.

If every American family wrapped just three presents in recyclable materials, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Reuse that ribbon! If every household reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet!

Now that's a present I'd love to give my children.
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Anonymous said...

Great ideas - I love the yellow pages wrapping paper.

My parents gave me a gift in a large wrapped box a few days before xmas. I reused that wrap on my kids gifts (with their blessing ahead of time)

Happy Holidays!

BOSSY said...

This is awesome -- LOVE it.

Anonymous said...

I gave my parents and sister their gifts in the Whole Foods reusable bags this year. I think they were more excited about the bags than the gifts inside.

A family tradition has evolved where we reuse certain boxes year after year. For the last 10 years or so, someone gets to exclaim delightedly "Hey, I got a slimline Bible" and then feign surprise when there is something other than said Bible inside.