I work in retail supply chain, so my year is a revolving door of events. So far this year, we’ve had Australian themed plastic plates and tattoos for Australia Day, teddy bears and balloons for Valentine’s Day, specially wrapped chocolates and baskets for Easter and for Mother’s Day we get cellophane wrapped flowers, cards and cute potted plants.
It’s all very novel and sometimes I wonder if it would still feel like Christmas without a bon bon. But I honestly don’t know where it all goes! I can only assume that a large amount ends up in the trash to make room for the next event.
[ But I honestly don’t know where it all goes! I can only assume that a large amount ends up in the trash to make room for the next event ]
I live 900kms from my family. I’m down in Sydney while they’re up in QLD. So I often feel inclined to make up for my absence at birthday barbecues by posting up something festive. But my family and friends don’t want trash! And it pains me when I receive something novel, even when I know it’s sent with love.
One day on a train ride to the city I was telling my friend about my first job. How I would work every Saturday morning icing donuts with my Dad. And I realised that I probably wouldn’t have the work ethic that I have now, if it weren’t for the way he raised me. Then I thought, how good would it be to tell him that. So I wrote a “10 things I love about you” list (yes I do love that Heath Ledger movie!) and emailed it to him for Father’s Day. It really made me step back and think about the whole point of these events.
The same goes for Australia Day and the southern cross themed fare we’ve turned it into. F#ck we are lucky to live in a place like this! I think that every time I’m away from Australia. We have a day that we can devote to just enjoying the natural wonders of Australia! And treating it well! Plastic plate free!
If you’re starting to think this makes sense, here’s the stance I’ll take if you’re keen to join me. I’ll celebrate every event and relationship with the thought that it deserves.
No last minute servo flowers, no packaging laden chocolates and no tacky trimmings. But instead, thoughtful gestures and time taken to savour the day. It sounds cliche, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve all forgotten what these days are about!
I’m not even saying that we should stop buying things (I’m in retail so that would kind of suck for me!) I’m just saying, let’s stop buying trash.
Often throughout the year I’ll see things like a pillow that would go well on Mums couch, or a Disney themed dressing gown that my best friend would love! So I buy it then and there. And it’s usually a great story to tell them on their birthday. “I saw this at a market in Manly 3 months ago and I immediately thought of you!”
Being thoughtful, putting in some effort or doing something meaningful is what it’s about. Here’s a few gift related idea’s my friends have given me over the years.
Plan a trip
For Mother’s Day 2014, I bought Mum flights to visit me in Sydney. She got to see where I was living, we spent more than a day together and it meant she didn’t have to figure out how to use Webjet.
Tickets to something they’ll enjoy
My whole family have been to my favourite Brisbane comedy club now because I just know they’ll have a great night.
Donate money to a worthy cause
My best friend loves sea turtles so her birthday gift was a donation to a wildlife fund in South America.
Rethink the trimmings
I’ve received some hella nice cards over the years, and I love love LOVE to wrap presents. But most of the 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper Australians use annually, comes from bleached wood pulp (which means heaps of trees). So put some thought into where these items come from and where they’ll end up. Finding sustainably produced paper, reducing the trimmings and considering their reusability and their recyclability will mean that your children’s gifts won’t cost them their world.
Consider using Giftster
I’m honestly not getting a kickback here (I wish!). This app is really cool if you’re still set on tangible gifts. For my nephews birthday, I accidentally bought him something he already had. So while I was still in town, I installed the app onto my parents phones. We all set up gift registeries and could keep track of what had already been bought. The best part is, when you’re out shopping and you see something you want (but don’t really need) you can take a pic and add it to the app for the next time someone’s thinking of you.
Give an eco gift
Take the effort out of it for your mates. From natural beauty products to reusable daily items. You could be setting them up with a new eco habit for life.
The next time you find yourself feeling obliged to buy a gift or grab some tacky merch, take a moment to remember what the occasion is about. Avoid the novelty and give your actions and purchases more thought.