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An Environmental Studies Student’s Response to No Toys For Christmas

On Instagram I came across @lindsaymatway No Toys Please…We Have a Better Idea post. To summarize Lindsay’s post she is talking about the benefits of switching from gifting children toys to gifting them experiences. Even though I am not a parent who has dealt with this issue, I once was a child and I have experienced this with the children I babysit. While reflecting on her response to an article I looked at it from two different point of views, one from my personal experience with this topic and one from someone who is working on her Environmental Studies degree.

From my experiences as a child and a babysitter I related to what Lindsay was saying about the initial fun and excitement around the newly gifted toys and then the timeline she used to describe how to toy will eventually become unused. After reading this I had a kairos moment (light-bulb moment). Not only was what Lindsay saying totally correct, but the idea she suggested to combat this was brilliant. She gave a number of examples and I have one to add to her long list. Last Christmas I asked for a week long pass to a climbing gym in my area. My twin sister and I were both received passes to the climbing gym for Christmas. My sister had the idea to invite our friend and her bother to join us and buy day passes for the climbing gym for the day we decided to begin our week. By doing this we were able to make memories and learn a new skill from this Christmas gift. An idea for family’s who want to start implementing this type of gift giving is to give two gift certificates or passes so the child can bring a friend or give all the siblings passes so it can be a shared family experience.

Now for my reflection on this as an Environmental Studies major. In my courses something that we have studied and reflected on is consumerism and what changes we can make to lessen our need to participate in it. In America it is common to grow up thinking that in order to be happy you need to have a large quantity of stuff, material items. Not only have studies shown that having a lot of stuff actually does not make you happy, but it is also not healthy for our environment. When I say this I talking out the amount of things that go to the landfill. Combating this problem is quite simple, if we do not participate in consumerism then less products will end up in landfills.

“Today, the average American has more stuff than ever before. As a society we have been purchasing things at an ever-increasing rate. And while we’ve increased our rate of consumption, we’ve also increased the rate at which we dispose of things. In the average home, people either stop using or throw away an item within six months of purchasing it. Yet we could spend years paying off the credit card debt used to finance the items. It is a vicious cycle.” This quote from Ryan Mitchell’s book Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living Well in Less Than 400 Square Feet left a lasting impression on me for why it is important to think about what you are buying before buying it.

Overall I think that Lindsay’s post has taught me many lessons and given me a new perspective on the possibilities of gift giving.

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