So much packaging for such a tiny (plastic) gift. What’s the point?
Simple, recycled wrapping paper 🙂
Giving less (stuff) can mean so much more!
The more birthdays and Christmases I see come and go, the more I realize how much gift giving has become something most people feel obligated to do. I’ve noticed that for a lot of well-meaning family members, quantity wins out over quality, and before I know it, we’re all drowning in gift wrapping, bubble wrap, plastic packaging, and plastic gifts. Completely acknowledging that this sounds like such an entitled first world problem…it is exactly that! In countries like Canada, we often view the giving of physical gifts as a language of love. But what happens when gifts start flying around just for the sake of giving them? Not to mention the excessive plastic packaging that most gifts are drowning in (especially if they have been bought online). Besides the stress of trying to find where to put all this “stuff”, the biggest problem is all that packaging that ends up hitting the landfills.
Robin Wall Kimmerer makes a beautiful yet powerful statement when she talks about “powerful acts of reciprocity with the land” (pg. 174). I have decided my act of reciprocity for the land is to ask that family and friends avoid giving gifts to me and my children that contain plastic packaging of any kind, and to take it a step further, to avoid the gift itself containing plastic. I am also going to avoid the same when giving gifts to others. In addition, I am going to phase out using wrapping paper and find ways to use recycled materials instead.
To visually represent this idea, I created a “Christmas present” out of cardboard. When this “gift” is viewed from one side, it is wrapped in excessive paper and there is layer after layer of packaging. Contained in the gift is a plastic toy a fraction of the size of the packaging itself. To represent the act of reciprocity, when the “gift” is turned over, it is wrapped in recycled newspaper and contained in the box are different ideas for gifts that don’t involve packaging or useless “stuff” at all – gifts such as concert tickets, magazine subscriptions, books, experiences, etc. Giving something such as an experience means the gift of giving time spent with a loved one, which is almost always more meaningful than a material thing.
When I first started thinking about what the environment means to me, I couldn’t help but think of it in the context of my own children. Wall Kimmerer asked her students “Have you ever wondered how the world got to be put together so beautifully?” (Wall Kimmerer, 213, p. 216). When I read this I was brought back to all the times I’ve pointed out to my kids the different birds in the trees in our backyard, or the hoar frost that has settled on every surface on certain winter mornings, or the Hungarian partridge tracks that are scattered all over the yard. I was inspired to make a visual representation of my desire to pass my connection with the environment onto my children. I chose to use the theme of youth in my visual representation and used the shape of a mobile. I wanted to connect my children’s relationship and my connection with the environment and used the theme of Waskesiu Lake because this is such an important location from my childhood and is where I have always felt the most connected to the natural world. This is also where we take our children every year and where I try to show them all the amazing and beautiful things that nature has to offer us.
“I so wanted them to see the world beyond the boundaries of their own skins” (Wall Kimmerer, 213, p. 219) sums up perfectly why I try so hard to pass my love of nature onto my children. With the slow intrusion of technology during our time at the lake, it can be challenging making sure they are taking the time to really appreciate how beautiful Waskesiu is. I was inspired to use photos of each of my children, from their first summer in Waskesiu when they were just babies, to our most recent summer there. On the back of each wood slice, I printed a quote from our readings of Wall Kimmerer and Orr that really spoke to me and reminded me of why I try to teach my children to pay attention to their surroundings and the wonder of the natural world.