My task for this week is to gather random bits of plastic from around the house, shove them into jars with a few molar-killing sweets and stick a bow on top, for our school Christmas fair. This is a remarkably cleansing experience. It really is the chance to ‘give something back’.
Every celebration seems increasingly associated with two things: sweets & tiny bits of plastic. Sometimes one is even wrapped around the other (thanks, Kinder egg people). So as we head to the end of another fun-packed year, it’s a joy and a pleasure to hunt and gather all of the stocking fillers, party bag toys and Halloween treats lying forlorn and forgotten, and ‘regift’ them via our jam jar tombola.
Obviously, I have to do this while my children are out of the way, otherwise they will suddenly remember the joy of unwrapping the wind-up beetle or the mini wax crayons (another pack! Just what we need!) and I will be forced to hand them back. In the past there have been a few suspicious glances at the jars lined up on the stall: “Hey! I had a monster like that!”…not any more, my love, not any more.
But what this annual exercise teaches me is that I am absolutely complicit in the accumulation of plastic crap in our house. With one hand I’m packing the jars and with the other I’m buying THIS year’s set of stocking fillers. Perhaps less a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing, and more that two bits of my brain are failing to communicate. I kind of know as I browse the ‘pocket money’ toys that the children don’t need another stretchy dinosaur, but… it’s better than just chocolate isn’t it? So I shell out another fiver on bits and bobs, enjoy seeing their faces as they unwrap them… then find myself a year later dumping the lot on some other unsuspecting parent.
This, of course, is not the end of the story. Because across the school, there are dozens of parents doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Last year, my kids had a winning streak. I donated four jars. And how many did they win between them? Yup. Four. Maybe this will be the year I manage to stuff their stockings with useful, disposable & edible items. Maybe. But then, what would I put in the jars next year?