What to NOT Give for Christmas

The big news over the weekend  was that the Paris Climate Agreement had been adopted.  No, it’s not enough, but it’s the next best thing, and it’s a really big deal.  Think of how hard it’s going to be to get your extended family to agree on what movie to watch over the holidays (bad example this year, I realize, but pretend that “Star Wars Episode VII” didn’t just come out), and then try to extrapolate to how hard it must be to get 200 bull-headed countries to come to agreement on the climate.  I’m already exhausted! 

With the agreement, there’s of course also the fully anticipated groaning from those who say this is going to ruin our economy. Putting aside for the moment just how damaging climate change is for the economy, I couldn’t help but vent about all the things in our lives we could easily eliminate without any setback to our personal well-being.  Each of us who live a comfortable lifestyle could easily shave our electricity use, pay the premium for renewable energy, skip a shopping trip, and lighten up on our transportation loads.

But it being the holiday season and all, I turned to who else but my Facebook friends to ask them “What are the things that no one needs for Christmas?”  Turns out, they have some strong opinions!  Here’s a quick recap, which should be read with the “Twelve Days of Christmas” melody running through the background.

  1. Keurig. My friends have no use for Keurig, and that was before they knew that you could get the 15-count Christmas Tree Coffee Collection shown above.
  2. Leaf blowers. What’s the point? They burn fossil fuel, disturb the neighbors with their noise, and don’t seem to get the job done any faster than using an old fashioned rake. If you add in the fact that raking leaves allows you to skip the day’s trip to the gym, it’s a double no-brainer.
  3.  Assault rifles for civilians.  Please don’t tell me this needs explanation.
  4. Things with big-ass engines when a small one will do. There were two nominations in this category: 300 hp bass boats, and Ford F-150 full-size pick up trucks (which apparently are particularly aggravating in Washington DC.)
  5. Bottled Wa-a-ter (remember the background music! Bottled water is  every bit as classic as gold rings.) Again, very strong opinions!
  6. Hoverboards. Not cool in a climate-constrained world, unless that is it’s a replacment for your Hummer. Same goes for Segues. Bicycles, skate boards, unicycles, wheel barrows … yes. Hoverboards we can live without.
  7. There’s a special category for over-designed cleaning aides like Swiffer and (for real) toilet bowl wipes. Even though my sister appeared in one of Swiffer’s early commercials, even she wouldn’t endorse them today. As my friend Laurie stated “Use rubber gloves and a rag people!” Exactly.
  8. Dryer sheets, fabric softener, and Febreze (which would normally get a bullet of its own even though it boasts “100% natural propellant”, but there are just too many useless things to pack into this blog). Of course, then there’s the matter of just how necessary is the dryer, but let’s not get into that today.
  9. There were many nominations for things that could be lumped under “over-packaged, single-serving sized food”. Suggested examples include snack packs, yogurt tubes, juice boxes (with those straws and their wrappers that never make it into a trash or recycling can), but we could keep going for quite some time.  Keep it fresh, and pack your own.  While we’re at it, let’s throw in anything made with palm oil, partially hydrogenated anything, (most) beef, and any food that ends up not being consumed.
  10. (Dare I say it…) Disposable diapers. Even better, the Diaper Genie! After this was suggested by one of my friends, my mother and I had a good conversation about this. She raised her first two kids on cloth diapers without a washing machine (my brother and I were born in Italy), so she’s sympathetic to the use of disposables.  But I pointed out that kids in cloth get weaned from diapers earlier, which has got to be worth something in the time, effort, money, and climate trade-off.  Both my sons made it through with cloth diapers, and my husband and I were none the worse for wear. Actually, we saved a lot of  money by not buying disposables!
  11. Wrapping paper.  There are so many alternatives! Cloth tied with a ribbon, both of which can be used over and over again. There’s also the funny papers or old posters (keep an eye on your neighbor’s garbage!) that can liven things up. When wrapping paper can’t be avoided, try to save the big pieces for future use. While we’re at it, let’s put Mylar balloons on our list. They all seem to end up in the water, on beaches, in the guts of sea creatures, or as part of those giant plastic islands floating in the Pacific.
  12. And finally, does anyone really need plastic Christmas tree disposal bags? Or crock pot liners? Or liners for municipal garbage carts? Surely there are better ways to spend our energy. Literally.

Oh shoot – How did I leave off the cat pajamas? Cats don’t even want pajamas!

So, to those who say that cutting our environmental impact is going to be a hardship, I say “Come back to me when we’ve met the twelve not-needs of Christmas. And then let’s talk about what 2C will do to the economy.”



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