Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's the Most Wasteful Time of the Year

Well, another year is almost over and it soon will be time for the holidays and the festivities. We are walking in the stores now and seeing the bright lights of Christmas and Christmas carols playing in most of the stores. It has occurred to me in the past few years how materialistic and commercialized Christmas has become. It has nothing to do with the birth of Christ anymore to most people. It has become an orgy of materialism in the western world. Don't get me wrong, I used to love Christmas like a lot of people, but the real meaning of Christmas has been lost for the most part. You need to look no further than observing Black Friday door crasher sales to notice how pitiful our modern society has become. People wait in line for hours and push and shove each other to save money on the latest gadgets that we probably don’t need anyways. I am not against Christmas itself, just what it has become in our society. It is hard for certain people after a divorce and family breakup or if you recently lost a loved one to get in the mood to celebrate Christmas. Then there are others that have lost their jobs amidst this economic downturn. There is still pressure on them to buy, buy, and buy because that is that is what the media and society expects us to do. If you have kids they probably want and expect more than they ever did. I am not against taking Christmas away from children, because I always had a fairly good Christmas growing up, but here in North America in the past few decades we have spent more money on Christmas than we can really afford. There is lots of pressure indeed put on those that can't afford things and have no means to buy like the media and stores and some of our peers suggest for us to spend.

Christmas is the time of year when there is more waste than any other time of year amongst many individuals. Americans throw away 25 million extra tons of garbage during the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s holiday period, as compared to the rest of the year. That’s about 1 million extra tons per week; 25% more than in an average week.

We use more lights for our trees and properties. I happen to like lights myself; however, we need to use LED and environmentally friendly lights. Another thing wasted is wrapping paper. We wrap our gifts just to have them opened a few days later and the paper is thrown out. Christmas cards also use a lot of cardboard. Let's make a choice to recycle cards and wrapping paper this year. When you add to the paper wasted during the holidays millions of trees are chopped down during the holidays to put up in our homes for a few weeks and then thrown out. Make sure if you do use a real tree to dispose of it properly after the holidays are over. In many cases used trees can be used as mulch. Many communities in North America have Christmas tree recycling programs. Then there are the massive amount of toys that are mass-produced in Asia that we buy our children every Christmas. Half of these toys are probably not needed nor wanted and are disposed of in landfills before the next Christmas rolls around. We can't blame things on the kids, as it is the adults that control the media and seduce kids into wanting all this stuff. It is also the adults that no longer want our current televisions, DVD players, computers, MP3 players and other electronic gadgets when they become outdated. We want to dispose of our current versions of electronics and get the latest and greatest, which have new features. Hopefully if we really need that new electronic device we will dispose of the older ones properly by selling it, donating it or recycling it as a last resource. Also, disposable batteries are used a lot more at Christmas. Where do these batteries go? Unfortunately most end up in landfills. There is a lot of waste during the holiday season, and each of us should do our part to cut back on this waste.

We should revert back somewhat and celebrate Christmas the way it should be celebrated. We need to focus on family values and those less fortunate and less on the materialistic ways that have crept into society this past generation. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. Please celebrate responsibly. All the best in 2011.