Monday, December 19

How the Grinch Reduced His Carbon Footprint

Now, this blog is a lot of things: a guide to language, a review of postal services and conditions, a showcase for stationery-related images, and infrequently updated. I want to emphasize that it's good for many things related to paper, whether or not it's something that bears an address and stamp on it (though of course it could be put through the mail).

Here we are in the holiday season, with Merry Consumermas rapidly approaching. I'm not particularly religious: I consider myself spiritual but have little interest in discussing such matters. My personal questions are answered, and I opt to leave others to their own affairs. But what gets me down about this time of year is how far people have moved from the realm of the spiritual or even the human and wholly subscribed, unthinkingly and unconscionably, to material gain. It's just not a holiday unless you can throw a pile of injection-molded plastic trash at some child and impress upon him/her at an early age that the point of the holiday is not an end-of-year celebration of gratitude among friends and family, but that it's solely about getting and having stuff.

That's why any alternative to buying, spending, and purchasing is welcomed as a flickering candle flame to the heat-death of my heart. Regifting is a step in the right direction; DIY gifts are freakin' awesome. When the Japanese government released a PDF on how to wrap presents in a piece of cloth (furoshiki) so that it could be reused and gifted back and forth without wasteful gift-wrapping, I loved Japan all the more for it. (And apparently I've mentioned that link before. Sorry.)

Photo: How About Orange
A friend just posted an interesting DIY article on alternative gift decoration, namely, making a fancy bow out of a glossy magazine page. And yeah, that's a lot of work to put into a bow that will end up thrown out in the trash with the rest of the wrapping paper, but. It's not a bad exercise to be present with what you're doing, that is, sending a gesture of your affection to someone you care about; it's not bad to work with your hands and get crafty; and if something's going to be trashed, let it be something that's been once or twice around the block, instead of buying a new plastic sack of new gift bows that are hardly given any mind before they're discarded.

I'll apologize for my flinty cynicism, here. My world travels have left me disillusioned and humbled: tripping around impoverished developing nations stands in stark contrast to walking through a shopping center in the frenzy of the holiday season, watching people spend money they don't have on physical possessions they don't need for people who won't value them. So rather than storming around in a hair-shirt and condemning people who don't know any better, I'm actually seeking out alternatives to consumption and wastefulness and finding ways to candy-coat these, the better to insinuate them into people's everyday practices. It's better to get honey stuck in your fly than vinegar, after all.

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