Picture a child’s holiday celebration or birthday, with mounds of presents encased in plastic, wrapped with bright paper and tied neatly together with ribbon. Now picture all of that plastic, paper and ribbon ending up in a landfill and the gifts inside sitting unused on a shelf. It’s time for a different way of thinking, right?

Why? For one thing, we need a different mindset to resolve the problems we’re having today with waste management and recycling. Landfills are taking over vast swaths of land to manage waste and the supply keeps coming. Many modern materials take hundred, if not thousands of years to breakdown. Natural resources are being depleted. Manufacturing processes are polluting our land, air, and water.

For another thing, research shows that “experiences” are actually more beneficial—to adults and children—than material possessions in a number of ways: Experiences result in greater happiness. Experiences provide better memories. Experiences provide a greater opportunity to connect with others outside our normal circles. And most obviously, experience result in less clutter.

So the next time you’re giving some thought to gift-giving ideas for your kids, think about zero-waste ideas instead, and give the gift of:

  • Learning a New Skill: Consider the things that your child enjoys and has an aptitude for and promote that with classes or camps where they can learn. Whether it’s art lessons, learning how to play a musical instrument, or a soccer master class, new skills can unleash the creativity in your child to create a more well-rounded individual.
  • A New Experience: Some ideas may include going to a professional sporting event (like a baseball or football game) in an arena, a big-name concert, an amusement park, going rock climbing, volunteering at an animal shelter or soup kitchen, or something else your child is excited about but has not yet experienced.
  • A Donation in Lieu of Gifts: Make a financial donation to a worthy cause in your child’s name and teach them how important it is to give back.

Our mission at Bay Disposal & Recycling is to help people think of new ways to generate less waste. We believe the possibilities of zero-waste gifting are virtually limitless when you put your mind to it.