I'm starting to think my life exists in bullet points.
"In watermelon sugar, the deeds were done and done again, as my life is done in watermelon sugar." -Richard Brautigan
I finished reading Wake Up and Smell the Planet, Grist's guide to being green. I read it on the bus on the way to work each time I didn't have Bean with me. (My husband and I usually switch off caring for her and he often works or has class at night, which means Bean comes to pick me up at work with her daddy.) I found most of the advice to be at an eco-intro level, though I did pick up a few facts I didn't know before. Notably, avoid bath products with "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," "-eth-," or "-oxynol-" because they come with a carcinogenic byproduct called 1,4-Dioxane. Overall, the book was a fun, quick read and the kind of stocking stuffer gift for folks who are interested but don't know where to start on being more eco-friendly.
Speaking of the holidays, my family and I are at a standstill. My sister and I usually organize a sort of adult Secret Santa, with the maximum gift amount being $30. All the kids (under age 5 currently) get gifts from everyone. This year, though, several complaints have been made and the holidays need an overhaul. First, one sister wants a more predictable system, so she can shop for her person all year long. Another wants to do it by families--we keep multiplying, and the expense and time it takes to expend it are taxing.
I would like to see more holiday themes that involve less material items. As my dad says, "I have enough toys." This is true for most (though not all) of my family members. I just feel ridiculous paying $30 for some hair salon gift certificate to my sister-in-law when she rides around in a Mercedes without a monetary care in the world, while I'm earning WIC food stamps and hoping my baby doesn't poop much today so we can save 40 cents on a diaper liner. I don't like contributing to her evil consumption nor can I keep affording to pay for it. I thought we could do a charity holiday (everyone picks their favorite charity and we donate time or money to that person's charity). This would be especially timely this year with the economic downturn (read: recession) hitting nonprofits hard. Or we could do a homemade holiday: baked goods, art, music, wherever your talents lay. Or a Yankee swap: you don't want this, give it to them. Anybody have other ideas?
The problem is, my family has too many toys--but they want more toys. They don't realize they have too many toys. They see other people with even more toys and they want that, too. But they don't need toys anymore. How do I say all this with a gift?