The holidays draw near. That means gift-giving time is upon us. The holiday season is stressful and in many ways very wasteful. Mass-produced novelty items line the shelves at the stores. Fanciful decorations with little sustainability will be sold by the boatload. You'll probably get a gift or two that you'll want to toss into the nearest garbage can. You might even give a gift or two that will end up in a garbage can. Well, let's put an end to this trend, shall we?
Here are the Top 15 Gifts Everyone Gets and No One Needs (or Wants):
1. Christmas Ornaments
Before you buy a Christmas ornament, consider that by the time a person gets a Christmas ornament for Christmas, the ornament is already out of date. They have to store and house the useless ornament for an entire 11 months before it becomes relevant again. Most holiday decorations aren't made with sustainability in mind. If you must buy ornaments, buy nice ones that you wouldn't be ashamed to pass on to your children.
2. Snow Globes
I'm sorry. Someone has got to say no to snow globes. Yeah. They are kind of neat, and I don't want to Grinch-out about them, but I don't see many people using snow globes as paperweights in the summer. In fact, where do these things go when it isn't Christmastime? I don't see them at thrift stores, and I rarely see the same one twice. Every year, these globes get trotted out and sold at retail stores, then they disappear like the winter snows. They are usually made of plastic. That's not very green. If you must have a snow globe, buy a really nice one and treat it like an heirloom. Otherwise, they are just a tacky thing to own. Don't even get me started on forced-air globes that use electricity to blow Styrofoam pellets around.
3. Gift Baskets
Hey! Do you want a big basket of garbage and then a basket that is also garbage? There is also some food in this basket that comes packaged in garbage. I know how much you like eating non-perishable, unrelated foods and throwing stuff away. How many gift baskets get sold in the United States? How many basket-wielding citizens do you encounter everyday? How many baskets are in your garage, attic or closet? If you want to give someone a basket of gifts, then buy a wieldy basket and put your own eco-friendly gifts in it. The mass-produced gift basket is thoughtless and wasteful.
4. Gag Gifts
We all like a good joke. Being wasteful isn't funny. Every year, gag gift manufacturers sell valuable resources packaged as cubicle door chimes, toy bosses with legs we can rip off, Jesus action figures, "World's Best Dad" plaques, etc, ad nauseam. These things are kind of funny. You could have described them to me over the phone, and I would have laughed and been fine with just the idea of such things. But, this stuff is actually made! Most of this junk is made in Asia out of cheap plastic. Do you know why China is building all those coal plants? Probably to keep cranking out junk like this for our amusement. I won't be amused when the ocean rises, but it gives me a twisted hope that in a couple of decades, my apartment may be on the beachfront.
5. Ultraviolet Toothbrush Sanitizers
This gadget uses ultraviolet rays to kill all the germs on your toothbrush. How did our parents survive without this gadget? All those mouth-related illnesses caused by dirty toothbrushes just decimated the population during the last 200 years. First of all, your toothbrush isn't getting you sick. Secondly, if you are worried about your toothbrush getting you sick, here is a simple solution. Dip your toothbrush in mouthwash before you stick it in your mouth or dip it in hydrogen peroxide, then rinse it. Even if you think you need a gadget that you don't need, you don't need the gadget to fill the needs that you really don't need filled.
6. Collectible Quarters in Display Case
I don't know if you pay attention to your pocket change, but there is now a quarter for each state. They have an Iowa quarter and a Florida quarter and even a North Dakota quarter. That's wonderful, but I don't care. Fine, so you get all fifty quarters and you achieve a brief sense of accomplishment and go back to the drudgery of your life. You also have, like, twelve extra dollars in the case of an emergency, too. I don't know why the US government made these coins collectible. Were people not using the quarter? Were they saying things like, "I'm fed up with the quarter. From now on, I'm going to use five nickels or some combination of nickels, dimes and pennies." I don't know what the idea was, but I do know that hoarding coins is bad for the environment and the custom-made displays are probably not the eco-friendliest of things, and I also know that anyone who invites me over for lunch and shows me their quarter collection isn't someone that I plan to routinely eat lunch with. I mean, they collect quarters. How long can a conversation about collectible quarters last. "Hey! I like quarters. The Idaho quarter is the best. The Georgia quarter has a peach on it. I like quarters." End of conversation.
7. Gift Cards
So you want to be impersonal and you want to buy a worthless chunk of paper/plastic that will end up in a landfill? There is only one gift for you then. That's the non-gift of the gift card. You can buy a gift card for anything, anywhere. There is no better purchase that says, "I did all my shopping at the gas station."
8. Jar Full of Notes/Quote of the Day Calendar
They have this thing. It is a decorative jar, and it is filled with 365 notes. Every day you get to open a note, and it has some inspirational jibber-jabber on the note. Basically, this a jar full of trash. I hope one of those notes reminds the person to recycle. Who in their right mind needs perking up from an anonymous jar-sage? Who is that sad? Call a friend if you need inspiration.
Too long have companies churned out elaborate uselessness under the guise of the paperweight. They pass every piece of non-functional junk off as a paperweight. Whose office is that windy? Are these paperweights for tornado-chasers and sea captains? Rocks are free, sustainable, attractive, heavy and plentiful. If your papers are really in trouble, you should just put a rock, or, I don't know, something useful on them.
10. Motivational Gifts
They've moved far beyond paperweights now and are producing gifts that motivate. These gifts include a statue of a guy outside of the box and inscribed on the base it says 'think outside the box.' Other statues include a pewter star on a pewter stack of books. Some are supposed to represent teamwork and courage, etc. If you are buying a motivational gift to motivate yourself, maybe you are just looking for an excuse not to work. In any case, these gifts are functionless and are just frivolously wasting our resources. We should be motivated not to buy these things.
11. Virtual Movie Glasses
These are essentially eyeglasses that you can watch movies on. First of all, way to make a home theater system that takes the whole seeing-a-movie-with-another-human thing out of the equation. I tried a pair of these on at the mall. It was like watching a movie through a child's Viewfinder. It hurt my eyes. This invention is electronic bric-a-brac. It is a novelty item. It wastes our resources for a quick buck, but the product is so bad that it's practically unusable. Imagine all the energy that will go into powering and recharging these glasses. I predict virtual movie glasses will cause vision problems in the children that receive them, and I predict they will also produce migraines. Consult an optometrist before you buy.
The name implies that a keepsake is something kept for the sake of keeping. But what is the sake that it is kept for? Keepsakes aren't inherently bad. I own a few thing that I keep for the sake of it, but they are usually things that I have kept from a memorable event in my life. There is a certain sort of narcissism in manufacturing something and calling it a keepsake. That's really up to the keeper to decide. Most of these things are functionless pieces of maudlin waste.
13. Mail-Order Fruit
There are companies that sell fruit. You can buy this fruit from them, and they will mail it to you. There is perfectly good fruit in your town. Why are you buying designer fruit? The fruit tastes as good as other local fruits of the same kind. This mail-order fruit is just marketed better. The local fruit lobby is not a strong one.
Maybe your friend is a rich, industrial fat cat who loves sucking on a pile of burning leaves. What class! Not only is this gift hard on the health, it is hard on the environment. Smoking cigars pollutes the air, it can cause cancer in those around you, and the packaging waste hurts. Also, all that tobacco farmland could be used to grow a food crop to aid in the worldwide food shortage.
15. Leaf Blowers
How people think that these things are better than rakes is beyond my reckoning. Rakes last forever, unless you play swords with them. They are quiet and require no maintenance, no gasoline and cost about fifteen dollars. Leaf blowers are loud, and if I had one holiday wish, it would be to put an end to leaf-blowing forever. Won't you help make my holiday wish come true?