Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

Too Much Stuff…Lootbags and Keychains

We are programmed to believe it is proper social etiquette to provide a thank you gift in certain situations, and maybe sometimes it is appropriate.  Someone puts you up for a couple of nights in their home, maybe a bottle of wine or a house plant is in order.  Or maybe not.  Maybe a heartfelt, hand written thank you note really would be enough.

Pretty much any parent that I speak to bemoans the fact that their child has too many toys, too much stuff, and doesn’t appreciate what they have.  But the giving of loot bags at kids’ birthday parties is such a habit that we can hardly imagine not handing one out.  Bear with me folks, for loot bags are a bit of a pet peeve of mine at the moment.  The loot provided is definitely not needed, is often some sort of cheap toy from the dollar store.  It gets played with once or twice and then broken or forgotten.

I struggled with the issue of loot bags in August when we celebrated my son’s 9th birthday.  What to get that was relatively inexpensive, but not plastic?  I finally settled on t-shirts and fabric paint, and the kids painted them at the party.  I felt quite pleased with myself at the time, but really, looking back, the kids would have been fine without this craft/loot.  Truth be told, I doubt that even one of those kids has worn the t-shirt they made more than once, if at all.  Dollar stores, toys stores and big box family shopping type stores have whole sections devoted to the loot bag.  The aisles are full of cheap, cheerful, colourful toys and gizmos guaranteed to delight small kids.  The guest gifts are often accompanied by some sort of candy (that’s a whole other issue, isn’t it?) and, more often than not, the bag that holds all the loot is plastic.  I wish we parents could all get together and decide that loot bags are not obligatory!   Kids who have been doing the birthday party circuit for a few years now might feel ripped off at first, but they’ll get over it, right?   And if we start with the toddler crowd, and NEVER INTRODUCE THEM TO THIS LOOT BAG HABIT, we can wipe out loot bags within five to eight years, I figure.  What do you say, folks?  Are you ready to revolt against the loot bag?  Are you with me?

Even an organization dedicated to environmental stewardship, The Canadian Wildlife Federation, cannot resist the urge to give a thank you gift to it’s supporters. My father makes a yearly donation to them, and in return he receives a magazine (not sure how many issues, but it’s probably quarterly). The magazine would be enough (or too much!), but they also send a little key chain as a thank you.  My dad doesn’t need a key chain, and I’m sure that no one is making a donation in order to get a key chain.  Even if someone were to actually need a key chain and were to use it, I doubt that it’s use would in any way increase public awareness of a particular endangered species. My dad and I had quite a chat about this the other day when I was visiting. He had the trinket waiting for me on the kitchen table, and wanted to know if I needed a key chain.  I didn’t.  Had I not taken it with me, this little piece of plastic with a photo of two of  Canada’s most precious animals, would probably be sitting in his kitchen “junk drawer” by now.  Instead,  it is going to adorn my son’s backpack, where I guess it will stay until it breaks and falls off.  I can only hope that by the time someone finds it on the ground and puts it in their junk drawer, we will have collectively wised up and done something to break this addiction to things.

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Does your home have a junk drawer?  Have a look in it right now and count the empty key chains in there.  How many?  Or look in your kid’s room and count the plastic do-dads that have come from birthday parties.  How many?  How many are still played with?

Something to think about, something to talk about, something to change?

Peace.

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