Part three in an ongoing series. I promise, the next installment will not be holiday-related.
Say what you will about ordering gifts online; for those of us who dislike shopping, it is the greatest invention of the internet revolution. Stores are bad enough, but stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas? If, perhaps, you can put up with the crowds, the chintzy Christmas trees, and the salesclerks in Santa hats, you are a better soul than I am. If you enjoy the continual auditory assault of “Jingle Bell Rock,” you are probably slightly mad already.
What gets me most at the mall around this time of year are the fake wrapped gifts. Stacked up under trees, strewn about the display windows, alluringly spread on checkout counters. We all know those boxes are empty, people. We are just not that stupid. As I dart around women made three times larger by heavy winter coats that they insist upon wearing inside the store and fourteen shopping bags, I wonder: Just how much good could we do for the environment, just how many trees could we save, just how many chemicals could we not produce, if stores simply eliminated the fake wrapped gifts?
I like to do my holiday shopping (for children, because you know what I do for adults) from the comfort of my own home. There are no trips to the post office because the packages are shipped directly from the warehouse to the people receiving them. Yes, there are resources spent to ship the gifts to the recipients, but at least they are not first shipped to a store, where I buy them, and then shipped again to the child. I could buy the presents and hand-deliver them, but these days that would require a trans-Atlantic flight. Talk about time- and resources-consuming…
So, I click away. I am actually too lazy to think up gifts on my own, so Zachary makes suggestions. Our nieces are getting a lot of pink this year.
The online ordering does have its snags. There is a lot of packaging. And, if you are willing to pay, say $2.99 to $5.99 extra, they will actually add more packaging for you. Really. I just opt for the free gift message.
But this is a post about how to be lazy for the environment, not cheap. So, in addition to forgoing the gift wrap at Amazon.com, I skip it here in my house. Yes, that’s right. The boys got seven nights of Hanukkah gifts (remember, one night was charitable contributions) without *gasp* any gift wrap.
So, here is what I propose. Instead of spending days on end wrapping gifts for the holidays, just hand them their gifts. Or, if they cannot take that, use old newspaper. Or, if they really want something shiny, use reusable gift bags. Make sure you use neutral ones, because you are going to want to use them again for all those birthday parties.
Lest you think I am a scrooge who can sit back in my Christmas-less household and fail to see the joy of a tree stacked with gifts, let me tell you that there is one Christmas tradition that I can totally get behind. Stockings. Stockings make perfect sense to me. You buy them once. You fill them up. You reuse every single year. And, unless you are a total glutton for punishment, you don’t have to individually wrap each gift that goes inside. I like stockings so much that I have, on occasion, tried to convince J that we should have them. Not in December, because that is too Uncle Tomish for me, but maybe another month. February can use all the cheering-up it can get. And maybe not stockings. Maybe we’ll fill mittens or something.
There are those people for whom gift-wrapping is an art form. People who express themselves through silk-screened, homemade paper and ribbon they wove themselves from the flax growing in their backyard. If you are one of those people, far be it from me to suggest you give up your art in the name of environmentalism. I totally get the redeeming value of art, a subject for another time. Suffice it to say, I would not have told Picasso that the studies he did in preparation for painting Guernica were a waste of paper. If you raise gift wrapping to an art form, go for it, my friend.
But slapping some shiny red paper on a box just to watch it get ripped off again? Surely you have something better to do with your time.