It's almost Christmas! Boom, crack, pow!
This is it. The holiday season is upon us.
For most of us, it's a time of joy and magic. Children will be feeling more and more excited over the next few weeks. Some people hate Christmas for all sorts of reasons (loss of a loved one, expectations never met...).
But beyond each individual, whether we like it or not, if there's one thing that hates Christmas, it's planet Earth! Kaboom! Christmas has just created a big footprint on our environment.
Do we really need to quantify the impact of such a festival and its customs to understand the mark we leave? I don't think so... Yes, but it only happens once a year? Yikes! Nevertheless, here are some rather eloquent figures on what remains after the unwrapping of tons of presents and festive evenings.
- For Christmas, over 61 million toys are sold in France every year.
- Each child receives an average of 6 gifts (most of them plastic!!!).
- The total carbon footprint of Santa's distribution is 17.2 tonnes of carbon per year!
- Each adult Canadian spent an average of $1810 on Christmas in 2013 (gifts, activities, food...)
- The number of cards sold in the U.S. during the holiday season would fill a 10-story soccer field and require the felling of nearly 300,000 trees.
- In Canada, annual waste from gift wrapping and shopping bags amounts to around 545,000 tonnes/year.
- If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reusable paper or cloth gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 field hockey rinks.
- In Canada, 30,572 hectares are used to grow fir trees
So, what do we do with all this? Stop celebrating Christmas? Go back to the days when our parents and grandparents received an orange in their stocking? Absolutely not! There are ways to celebrate Christmas, to make it a magical and generous occasion, while minimizing our ecological impact. This impact comes from Christmas trees, decorations, clothing, meals... but here, we're going to talk about gifts, simply gifts!
Haaaa but don't cry my little one, it doesn't matter if your brother got one more present than you...
Haaaa but don't cry little one, it doesn't matter if your sister got a bigger present than you...
But what have we built?
Gifts for children can be a real headache... We're looking for something they'll like, and sometimes we pester them to find out what they want.
Why do we need to go through this? Often, the answer is obvious... Because they don't need anything!
They already have plenty, and most of them have too much! We want to please them, but most of the gifts we give them will be of little use.
So what should we favor?
Let's focus on the quality and usefulness of our gifts! We can take a look at used objects on platforms like Kijiji or Facebook, at second-hand stores or by consulting the Recyc-Québec directory to find recycling organizations. There are undoubtedly treasures to be discovered in this area, and it's highly likely that your child will see nothing but fire!
First of all, from a useful point of view, there's no shortage of ideas: a beautiful blanket, a good pair of pyjamas, slippers, a personalized garment, a beautiful lamp, a new pillow, a sports or creative item, depending on your child's interests... Something you know without a doubt your child will use in his or her daily life!
For quality gifts, check out the toy guide published annually by Protégez-Vous magazine. These toys have been tested! You can also opt for more traditional, tried-and-tested ideas: building blocks, magazine subscriptions, books...
In all cases, I suggest 3 gifts per child: one useful, one purely educational (ex. a book) and one that's more fun.
The playful gift may be appreciated if it's a good, but even more so if it's an activity that can be shared.
Why not offer an activity to your child and allow him or her to bring along someone of his or her choice? Wow, there's no shortage of choice here! From the creative to the cultural to the more active, there's certainly something for everyone!
What if we did the same thing with cousins? 3-4-5-6 cousins from 2-3-4-5-6 uncles/aunts and grandparents... What a mountain of presents! And what if the gift was a joint one? A nice outing together over the holidays: go sliding at a center, go trampolining, rent an ice rink, go to a cultural center? Isn't quality time together what Christmas is all about?
The front calendar
For the front calendar, it's best to avoid the ones offered by the shops. They're boring, the chocolate is often of very poor quality, and what can we say about over-wrapping?
There's so much to be said for optimizing this tradition, while at the same time having less impact on our environment.
Making one at home is full of surprises, each more creative and fun than the last. You need 24 ideas that don't have to be unique.
In other words, each idea can be used a second or third time. I suggest kind words to wish for a beautiful day, a popcorn party with a relative or friend, a few pennies, good-quality edible treats, a game to play with a relative or friend, a riddle, a choice of meal, a used book, a massage, a recipe to make together, permission to go to bed 30 minutes later...
You get the idea? I guarantee that children will appreciate this type of calendar. We've been testing it for the past 15 years!
And what about the adults?
In Christmas stockings, we can slip practical and useful items such as stockings, panties, toothbrushes, hair elastics, lip balm, bath foam and, if we're so inclined, a few edible treats.
What could I possibly offer my parents, parents-in-law, brothers/sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law? In most cases, nothing that will be meaningful or really useful! So let's take the opportunity to do something nice and pleasant. You can collect all the names in a single container and hold a draw. Each person should bring a single gift for the person drawn. And add a theme to it:
- Take something from home that can be used by others
- Give a gift we've made ourselves
- Give a locally grown or designed discovery
- Give a used gift
- Give an eco-responsible gift or one that will enable the recipient to reduce their ecological impact
Can you see? It can be simple. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that being greener is not only good for the environment, but also for our wallets and our children's health! Basically, it's for them, the children of today and tomorrow. For them now, but also to ensure the sustainability of our common space, so essential to life: the Earth.
But what will you choose to do this year?