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Thoughts on the Christmas buying frenzy


The_Grinch_(That_Stole_Christmas)I’m having a busy week editing the current editions of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine (December/January edition) and HazMat Management magazine (the annual print Buyers Guide edition — otherwise the magazine is now a digital product, i.e., a news and features website and weekly eNewsletter). Both publications have to get to the printer early, to avoid the pre-Christmas crush and get out to you in a timely way. They should land on desks just in time for when you return to work in early January.

This weekend will see the coming and going of US Thanksgiving, so I think it’s okay to start looking forward to the next big holiday: Christmas, and the attendant consumerism — a theme to which I’ll return in future blog posts. (Not to be a downer or anything…)

In the next few days I’ll start unpacking the Christmas decorations, plugging in my artificial tree, and activating the two-foot tall robotic singing Frosty the Snowman that I bought for the kids years ago, that we still enjoy activating because it makes our dog go mental.

machine_limitedBefore I get back to editing, I’ll share two thoughts on things to consider buying. I don’t normally plug products in this space, but I’ll put in a good word for this one: the “Soda Stream” home soda pop machine. I’ve seen this demonstrated at consumer trade shows, and it has the distinction for freeing consumers from buying soda at the grocery store. What I like about this concept, in addition to the idea that you can create your own concoctions, is the environmental profile.

Fact is, one of the biggest components of the environmental footprint of soft drinks is the fact that all that liquid must be hauled (usually by truck) from place to place. That’s a lot of weight and fuel and greenhouse gas emissions. By bottling your own at home, the environmental footprint of soda pop is greatly reduced. I’m sure someone will write to me and tell me something about this that’s not so good. I don’t know. But I’ll confess that part of what I like about this machine is that it undermines the major soft drink producers, if only a little. I rank those companies among with Big Tobacco as a blight on society, especially when they sell bottled water, one of the most useless and catastrophic products (in some places) ever devised. To my thinking, the Soda Stream allows you to make pop at home while “sticking it to the man!”

For those who want to go even further, I’ll pass along the following suggestion from the folks who make those terrific “Story of Stuff” videos that went viral on the internet a few years ago. In a news release they recently wrote:

“Still looking for that perfect Holiday gift? A gift that wasn’t made for less-than-minimum-wage, a gift that isn’t filled with chemicals no one can pronounce, and a gift that won’t end up gathering dust in the garage come January… We can relate.  If you are tired of giving Stuff no one really needs or wants, this Season of Giving we ask you to consider making a real gift: a donation to The Story of Stuff Project in honor of your loved ones.”

Now I wouldn’t give this to your kids in place of toys and things. I’m not that much of a Grinch! But this is a good way to augment your gift giving. The point is, let’s all agree to start thinking about the amount of stuff we buy, and especially where it’s made and by whom. What are we supporting when we buys certain things? Slave labour in the Third World? It’s time to read the labels on clothing, toys, food items and all merchandise.

Oh, and before I forget, don’t use conventional gift wrap: it’s not recyclable!

Okay, that’s enough thinking about the holidays. Back to work!