Staying out of the 50 percent


I was fighting my way through a certain big-box store today—yeah, sometimes the holidays cause me to break my usual rules—and remembered an amazing statistic I’d read the night before. It was on the blog EcoWomen, in a post by local writer Jennifer McDonald. Get ready:

“Approximately 50 percent of the gifts purchased for Christmas will end up in a landfill within the next 12 months.”

I think this came to mind because, in this particular store, there was stuff strewn all about in a most chaotic way—uh, just like in a landfill. Some of that seemed related to the hordes of customers stampeding the aisles. (I myself may have been guilty of handing my toddler a doodad to keep her busy, then depositing it elsewhere in the store before we left. Mea culpa.)

At the same time, some of the store displays seemed to be predicated on the very idea of chaos—like if we just throw enough bright and shiny stuff in front of people, in no special order, they’ll buy more. It probably works: Your most profitable retailers are generally characterized by visual overload, are they not?

Anyway, it’s just so sad and disgusting to think that fully half of this Christmas effort and resources will be wasted, before next Christmas. It made me resolve to choose carefully and err on the side of fewer nice gifts, rather than more that’s mediocre. Perhaps if an object isn’t even displayed respectfully in the store, that’s a good indication of how it’ll be regarded by the person who receives it.