Sunday, 20 September 2009

Consumer Cycle

Saturday was the last of our birthday bonanza for a while, although we do have another one in a couple of weeks. Having been to four children's birthday parties in the last week I've made a few observations. I couldn't help sharing about what I've seen and what I think.

First of all I have to say that I love birthday parties. L and I had such a great time at all of them and I'm looking forward to the ones we get invited to in the future. It is so lovely to see L playing with her friends and enjoying all of the activities.

The thing is, you didn't have to look very far to see the stack of presents sitting in the room. Now don't get me wrong I don't have a problem with little ones(or big ones) getting gifts for their birthday's. When I was a kid it was one of the best things about my birthday but I think it's more the quality and the quantity that I was amazed at. Looking around I realised that each of these children already had a pile of toys before they'd even opened their new of gifts.

I did a small inventory of things that L's friends have. At least three of them have large plastic kitchens, large plastic play houses or plastic climbing frame/slides and all of them have a minimum of one plastic ride on toy. These are the big items. Then there are the stacks and stacks of plastic, beepy, flashy lighty things. Now I imagined all of the other children across the country getting similar gifts for their birthdays and was overwhelmed by the huge mountain of plastic that was forming in my imagination. Except that it's not just in my imagination! It's real and it's happening all the time. What I want to know it what is going to happen to all of these millions and billions of new toys after the children grow out of them? Sure a few may get recycled but the majority?

When I first had the idea of making treasure bottles for gifts I wasn't sure how they would go over. It turns out that they were very popular and very original. I felt happy to know that other than a few new items that I bought for the treasures everything else was recycled or recyclable. This brings me back to the topic of an older post about Consuming kids. I've just seen some truly blatant examples of us training our children to be like this. These kids are only two and already they are being bombarded with hundreds of plastic toys, most of them branded with some cartoon figure. I sure wish I was part of Peppa Pig's family because from what I've seen they must be rolling in it! (money that is not mud :)

Anyway all of this being said I don't really have any answers other than just trying to do my bit. I have trained most of L's relatives on Montessori gift giving and will continue to give homemade gifts. L's birthday is coming up and although I have my eye on some cool new Montessori materials for her we will be steering well clear of Peppa and her friends!


Annicles said...

It's even harder once the kids are at school. They all talk about what toys they have/want/are going to get. It isn't pretty to hear children discussing who has the most/best toys. I work in a Montessori school in Suffolk and I am seriously considering doing a project on Advertising aimed at children for the reception and year 1/2 children.

I have done this with my own children (age 4/7/9) and they are refreshingly dismissive of adverts. You can hear them tell each other, Oh, thet's a piece of plastic rubbish, it looks cool but it won't fly like that. See how the advertiser made the back-ground look amazing? It's amazing and the toy is doing nothing!

My heart alswys lifts at this kind of overheard conversation!

FuNkY MoMmY said...

I just came across your blog on chasing cherrios...I totally agree with your observeration. My daughter just turned 2 in August. We try to keep her toys to a minimum. I feel like we are always getting her books. But that's a good thing. I love wooden and homemade toys/cloths for her and I always try to make gifts for the parties we attend. Good luck on your move!

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