When it comes to consumption, we try to abide by the mantra “buy memories, not stuff.” This can be applied to areas like entertainment, gifts, lifestyle, and especially holidays like birthdays and Christmas. It’s a matter of rethinking what is left behind – the wrapping paper, the decorations, the packaging, etc and how you can do without. When you have to be resourceful and use what you have or what you can find (not buy) the result is that much more unique and creative.
When you have small children, there is an abundance of birthday parties to attend and host. The temptation is always there to buy some plastic toy from the dollar store to gift them, but why not buy a memory instead? Things we have gifted in the past include a gift certificate to the movies, seedlings to plant a garden, and homemade (biodegradable) pinatas to bash and eat the contents of. Memories last a lifetime – plastic toys are outgrown and eventually disposed of.
I have to apply this mantra to my profession as well. When families ‘consume’ funeral goods (such as caskets and flowers) there is always an environmental impact to be considered. Why not opt instead for redirecting the funds in memoriam to an organization that was important to the deceased, holding an intimate gathering of memory sharing over wine and cheese, or working through grief ‘productively’ by sewing a memory quilt or building a garden?
People will never remember the casket that a person was buried in, but they will always understand what was said to them, who was there, and what it feels like to have loved and lost.