This is going to sound strange coming from someone who sells things for a living, but before you shop this holiday season (or before you buy more), please visit this website and watch the video that launches: The Story of Stuff. It tells the full life cycle of products including how they are made, priced, sold, consumed, and trashed, but more importantly the far-reaching impacts of production, overconsumption, and waste. It’s wonderful. It’s fairly long (maybe 15 minutes or so, but it goes by fast), so make sure you have the time before you sit down (and if right now isn’t the time, please make the time later today).
I can’t help but think of Hazelnut Kids when I watch programs like that. There is more that we can do at Hazelnut Kids, and we always remain cognizant of what we might be using too much of or what we can do differently. For instance, my husband just read that if 10 million office workers were each to use one fewer staple each day, it would save almost 120 tons of steel a year (thank you to Ode magazine for that article). Wow! So, we at Hazelnut Kids are trying to staple less, and I’m buying staple-free staplers for the office. We are constantly thinking of ways to reduce the amount of paper we use, and our first priority in 2008 is to map out ways of streamlining our processes to do so.
A video like that helps explain why the wooden toys that we sell cost more. The companies we buy from pay fair wages, care for the environment, and do things right. They create toys to last, rather than engineering them to last only a limited time so parents buy more, or creating a new version of an item so kids will “NEED” the latest version. (This is referenced in the video in case you’re wondering why I sound so conspiracy-theorist about big box toys.).
There is a part of the video that shows a cartoon man working (sometimes even two jobs), coming home to plop down in front of the tv, seeing ads for what he “needs”, going back to work, going shopping, coming home to watch tv, going to work… AAARRRGGHHHH! We don’t need as much as we think we do. I mentioned this in an article I wrote for Modern Sage magazine (see it here), but one good toy can replace a lot of little toys, and will be cherished by a child. Since well-made toys last, a great earth-friendly choice would be to find one at a second-hand store or garage sale. But, if you want to buy a new toy for your child, buy one really nice toy. It will last, it will be cherished, and you won’t be contributing to the overconsumption of our planet’s resources. One fact that was mentioned in the video is that only 1% of the stuff we buy is still being used 6 months later. So, 99% of the products we buy have gone through the cycle of using natural resources, being made in a factory with toxins that are hurting the workers and the environment, being shipped to the stores (using more natural resources and creating more pollution), being bought by consumers, and then being added to our landfills (and I’m missing several key points here so please watch the video). 99%! The good news is that we can do something about all of this, and create happier lives for ourselves in the process. Let’s start by shopping less, spending more time with our families, and watching the video for inspiration and tips. Happy (shopping less) Holidays!