This time of year is often described as stressful. Ask a friend or neighbor how she’s doing during the month of December, and her response is likely to include the word “busy.” But the holidays are only as stressful and busy as we make them. Today, in case you feel you need it, I’d like to give you permission to relax. Read more
Americans produce a staggering amount of waste. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013, we collectively produced 254 million tons of trash, an average of about 4.4 pounds per person per day. (That’s much higher than the global average, though other wealthy, developed countries aren’t far behind.) The upside is that we recycled and composted about 34% of that waste, but that still left a lot of trash headed to landfills or scattered as litter. There are about 2,000 active landfills in the US, and simple math leads to the conclusion that we will at some point run out of space for all of our trash. In addition, properly managing municipal waste is expensive, and both landfills and incineration can pose serious environmental and health concerns. Moreover, think about all the resources we are wasting by throwing so many things away rather than using them to their fullest potential.
I recently came across this post on gift-giving from Mr. Money Mustache and thought it was worth sharing. The post is several years old and references Mother’s Day, but it applies to all the occasions on which our culture tells us we are supposed to give gifts.
Ideally, gift-giving should be a way of expressing our appreciation for the people we love, making their day a little brighter, and perhaps easing their burden. At its worst, gift-giving can become another obligation, and the gifts we give can sometimes add to the burdens of the receiver as well as the giver. I’ve gone to holiday gatherings without gifts to give and have been embarrassed when others brought gifts for everyone, including me. The gifts were not personally selected for each individual, but were, I suspect, bought en masse out of either a sense of requirement or a desire for the gift-giver to feel good about herself. These gifts were not meaningful, but they provoked feelings of guilt and obligation in me. That is not what gift-giving should do.