I remember as a kid how excited I was for the holiday season to come. When the first snow flakes started to drop and the sunsets show up earlier and earlier, the surety that the most “wonderful time of the year” was just around the corner hit our little minds.
But, as a child, I was sure that the holiday season hadn’t started until well into the last month of the year. My birthday is December 3, so it was very important to me that both “holidays” were kept separate. No holiday creep allowed, here! Nowadays, it’s much different.
Just this year, I saw holiday decorations in department stores even before Halloween showed up on the calendar! But, it’s not just the stores pushing this trend. It’s US, TOO! There is a demand for more deals on more stuff. Americans consume over 40% of toys produced globally. 12% of the population lives in North American and Wester Europe but accounts for 60% of the private consumption in spending.
We’re buying more and more stuff!
And yet, there are many reports that show a direct relation between stress and clutter. The amount of stress we experience at home is directly proportional to the amount of stuff we have accumulated.
This trend of dedicating more time on the calendar to shopping and gift buying is leading many to question if there is another way.
Here’s what you can do!
More than 3 out of 4 Americans want the holidays to focus less on the materialistic side of giving. 9 out of 10 believe that the holidays should be more about family and caring for other, and not about receiving gifts. It may have taken a bit, but we are all finally realizing that more stuff does NOT equal more happiness.
This is an opportunity to stop the cycle and start minimizing.
Spending time together with family and friends, doing activities you enjoy, will be a win-win for both you and the planet.
- Give the gift of time.
- Bake cookies together.
- Volunteer as a family.
- Register for an “adopt” a family programs for those with actual need.
- Shovel your neighbors walkway/driveway
If the goal is to make your holiday experiences move away from just more time at the department store or online, you’ve got to make the change yourself. There is a larger and larger positive reinforcement that retailers experience as they encourage more and more buying.
Taking that first step can be hard. But, here’s some ideas to make it a bit easier.
Reducing Holiday Waste
Product packaging is one of the biggest fillers of the landfill during the holiday season. We generate 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus trash output nearly doubles after the holidays for a time. Be aware of the packaging your gifts come in. Do they need that heavy plastic clamshell? Can you have your individual packages shipped together instead of separately? Would a homemade gift convey your meaning as well as a new gift?
When you do choose to give a gift, be aware of how you plan on wrapping and presenting it. According to Family Celebrations: A More Fun, Less Stuff Guide to Life’s Joyful Events, over 38,000 miles (!) of ribbon are thrown out each year. That’s a lot of bows! Instead, choose newspapers, magazines, fabric paper, or maybe even hide the gift in a scavenger hunt. The memories created will be carried for years!
If you are interested in learning more about using less during the holidays, go to New Dream. They’ve got tons of great information on the subject and on minimization in general.
What steps are you going to take this season?