The Season of Stuff

8:00 pm in Living Simply, Toys by Mary Brune

Story of StuffI don’t know about you, but I’ve been suffering from a serious bout of recall fatigue. The irony that my daughter’s beloved medical kit was covered in lead–and was therefore a health hazard–has definitely placed a chill over our holiday toy-buying plans. Even though we have limited our purchases to a few well-chosen items, it can be difficult to control the urges of well-meaning family members who may be unaware of the recent recall issues–or who are simply unable to resist the temptation of the latest and greatest toy.

Besides, truth be told, we already have too much stuff. Now, thanks to the new film, The Story of Stuff featuring longtime environmental activist, Annie Leonard, I have one way to help spread the word to family and friends about why we don’t need more of it in our lives.

Here are a few tips from MOMS for minimizing the impact of the holidays on your pocketbook, your health, and the planet. For maximum effect, share this list with your family and friends.

1. Make your gifts – Kids do it for family members, why not take their lead? Fill a mason jar with ingredients for your famous brownies; knit a one-of-a-kind scarf; paint a masterpiece on a canvass tote bag, frame a favorite photo. Whatever your skill level or experience, there’s something you can make or do that maximizes resources and results in a gift that is as useful as it is mindful.

2. Give an experience - So you’re not an artist, that’s okay. There are other things you can do to make your gift personal and memorable, while limiting the accumulation of stuff: Take a tango lesson
with your grandmother; teach your brother how to make a souffle; Dole out “coupons” redeemable for household chores, foot massages, or free babysitting.

3. Give safely – If you choose to purchase new or used toys for the holiday, please first consult the CPSC recall database and the new Healthy Toys database to make sure the toys you have in mind have not been subject to past recalls. Consider buying products made in Europe and the United States where safety controls are more easily enforced. Before stuffing those stockings with perfume or personal care products, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep database to verify the safety and item’s ingredients before you buy it.

4. Give to a cause – Find out what causes your friends and family care about and consider making a donation to support those efforts. Small organizations (MOMS included) rely on individual donors to help fund they work they do.

5. Spread the word – Download the Story of Stuff and share it with everyone you know. In addition to SOS, fab new books like Exposed, and Not Just a Pretty Face can shed light on our need for chemical policy reform, while The Virtuous Consumer can help those on your list understand that going green doesn’t have to mean giving up the good life.

Happy Holidays!