I wanted to end Birthday Season with a bang (all 3 of my sons have birthdays in December & January). Unfortunately, Birthday Season overlaps with Christmas Season. This ends with my middle son’s birthday in mid-January. At that point, I am already scrambling, trying to find “new homes” for all of the new toys the boys took in over the season.
Well when it was time to open presents, my newly turned 4-year-old began ripping through all of his gifts and tossing them aside quicker than I could clean up the mess. Sure he’s 4 and that’s how 4 year old’s act, but the reaction ate away at me. Why wasn’t he appreciative? Why did he not give me the reaction I was hoping for? I wanted to see his eyes light up. I wanted him to beam with surprise and excitement. Instead he tossed it all aside and played with some other crap that we already owned.
My first reaction was to get angry and blame my son “He doesn’t appreciate anything. He’s spoiled and has too much stuff. He’s ungrateful.” And as we always see ourselves in a better-than-though light, I pondered where he learned such ingratitude. I knew action needed to be taken and I wasn’t sure what the first step would be. Model the Behavior was the first thing to come to mind. Of course I don’t see myself as ungrateful, but did I appreciate the “things” I owned?
The Thought Process Behind Wastefulness
I’m a pretty average, middle class American, I frequent Wal-Mart and Target weekly (maybe more) and when something breaks, I throw it away and buy it again. It’s okay to throw it away because it’s all disposable crap. I didn’t pay much for it, so there’s no value lost when I throw it out. With a mentality like that, there’s no wonder my son had such an underwhelming reaction to all of the stuff we just bought him. I apparently had the same thought process.
The things I was tossing out and choosing to purchase might not have had a high monetary value, but there was a cost. By choosing cheap, I was choosing cheap materials, I was choosing cheap labor, I was choosing items that were manufactured in a country with sketchy environmental policies and labor practices. I was choosing products that would sit in a landfill long after my lifetime. Is this the type of legacy I want to leave? What if we all decided to raise our standards? What if we all decided to stop looking at purchases as disposable?
I hate declaring a “New Years Resolution” but this year, I’m doing it. This year, my goal is to create No New Demand out there for myself. My goal is to love what I have and find new uses for things that I no longer need. I’m going to recycle more. I’m going to buy used. I’m going to share with others. I’m going to try fixing things when they break. I’m going to take a good, hard look at the way I do things and ask “is this excessive?” This is my journey. Hopefully you’ll join me!