The fall was so jam-packed with events, between holidays and nesting, that I didn’t really get a chance to talk about the awesome baby shower I had. And it was awesome not because of the games that were played, or the food and cake (which were both really awesome), or the cute items I got that I wasn’t expecting. It was awesome because it was exactly what I wanted – relaxed, laid back, and green enough to make me feel like I wasn’t killing the environment.
As Americans, we throw out on average 4 pounds of trash a day. That’s 1460 pounds – or three-quarters of a TON of garbage annually – on average! With an average life expectancy in the 80s… you’d throw out 124,100 pounds of trash if you lived until 85. That’s 62 tons, or roughly the equivalent of one of the heaviest tanks in the US military.
Since the fourth grade I’ve wanted to save the environment, recycle and reuse things, buy from consignment shops, and generally respect the planet. So when wedding season and then baby season came along in the last decade, I shuddered at nearly every shower at the amount of garbage thrown out just in the ribbons and wrapping alone. At one shower there were three or four bags of trash just in the wrapping! It made me slightly nauseated, especially to know that there was still boxes and other wrappings still to be thrown out once the bride or mom to be opened up the package to use. I resolved to have my baby shower be green, because that was one small thing I could do to eliminate the facade of the shower. So when the time came, I asked my sister (and anyone else who might have had a hand in planning to shower) to ask guests not to wrap any of the gifts. My husband disagreed and thought I was being rude telling guests how to (not) wrap their gifts; I persisted and won. I even consulted Dear Abby; she didn’t reply.
There were other reasons to ask guests not to wrap gifts. I hate the feeling of everyone watching me unwrap gifts. It’s painful. And the audience gets quiet, especially after they get over the initial hour of “Awwws!” It’s just painful. And now with electronic registries as ubiquitous as they are, things aren’t much of a surprise for anyone. Is it really a surprise if you open a gift you pre-picked out for yourself? No.
All that being said, the younger attendees of my shower totally got it and appreciated not having to spend an extra $5-10 on a gift bag or wrapping paper. The older – really old – people didn’t understand it, but I didn’t really expect them to. Only one person wrapped gifts, who apparently had purchased all the gifts and wrapped them before she got the invitation… props to her for being super organized. And there were other benefits to this tactic that were unintended but pleasantly surprising:
- I spent more time mingling with family and friends, especially family that I don’t see often, than I did opening gifts
- If people had to leave early, they didn’t feel bad about it because everyone had lots of time to see all the gifts on display, including me
- People got really, really creative about presentation
- The shower was over in three hours, food buffet and dessert included
It was one afternoon. Now here I am and since my son was born I’ve probably contributed some 1500 disposable diapers to landfills. And we’re only getting started…