This week I was brainstorming ways to reduce waste this holiday season. Despite everything we know about climate change and how our actions are impacting the planet, we continue with our wasteful, over-consuming habits, especially around the holidays. We get stuck in traditions and fear disappointing our children, if we don’t keep up with the holidays as usual.
And then it hit me, while watching the new documentary, “Before the Flood.” I was absolutely shocked to hear that “by 2040 there will be no sea ice left in the summer.” Come again? What? No sea ice left? I had to know for sure if that was true, and sure enough, experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are warning the Arctic may be ice-free by the summer by 2040 due to global warming.
Now, THIS is what will interest our children, hearing that the North Pole is melting and Santa will soon be in jeans and a t-shirt. How’s that for a change in tradition?
So, in my opinion, Santa, being the smart and crafty fellow that he is, has gotten to work to solve the problem along with all of us. Since all of our "stuff" has a carbon footprint, we needed to find a way to explain to kids that we would be buying less, wasting less (like wrapping paper) and that they may see a change in how Santa gives gifts.
So after that brief explanation, I prompted my 6 year old to make a second Christmas list.
Her original Christmas list was filled with "stuff", particularly, things that I as a mom, knew she was only just seeing right in front of her face in that moment or some ridiculous cheap toy that she had just seen in an advertisement, but I knew she would never really play with more than once. Junk. Stuff. Waste. And in fact, kids seem to change their mind so many times about the “stuff” they want, so their lists keep changing, and so we as parents keep going out to buy more stuff.
So, I explained to my 6 year old that her Christmas list doesn’t need to be a list of “things”, but it can also be a list of experiences. The result was profound. Faster than she created her first traditional Christmas list, she made a list of experiences, from things like “gymnastics” and “ice skating” to going to “frozen yogurt” and “breakfast in bed”. She was thrilled with the idea of getting gifts like this, but had never thought to ask for them. And I could tell these were things she absolutely loves to do and they won’t go out of style by Christmas morning. I encourage you to give it a try with your kids. Sure, still buy them some gifts, but make the shift away from over-consuming and balance it with experiences and giving the gift of your time. Far from being disappointed, they will be grateful!
Santa’s going green y’all and kids are SO on board!