The 500-Year-Old Unicorn

To meet safety regulations, our soaps come into your house wrapped. As many of you know, though, that ain’t just any ol’ terrible plastic wrap. We use a biodegradable wrap that can be put right into your compost! The rest of our packaging, naturally, is recyclable.

But how about the rest of that plastic that enters our homes? Sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially in this day and age of online shopping with its usual excessive packaging (boo!). But sometimes avoiding plastic just takes a little thought.

Say no to cheap trinkets.

Say no to cheap trinkets.

I recently read a post on the website Becoming Minimalist where Denaye Barahona was reflecting on the “need” to purchase a light-up unicorn headband.

It was being sold among in a kiosk of inexpensive toys on the Santa Monica Pier. Barahona was in Los Angeles for a work trip and wanted to pick up a memento for her daughter.

“The only thing lighting up brighter than that unicorn horn would be my three-year-old daughter when I put it on her head,” she wrote. “She would love that toy.”

Enough said, right? Most of us would have purchased the toy without considering the realities of purchasing junk; after 18 seconds of elation it would be long forgotten by our child. Then that unicorn makes its sorry way to the local landfill to join almost every other plastic toy every made because these cheap plastic trinkets take more than 500 years to degrade.

Think about that for a second. Every toy WE had as children is still languishing in a landfill somewhere (if only I could retrieve my first gen Star Wars toys from where they lay buried).

But there’s a serious surge of dopamine when it comes to material gifts, Barahona continued. Sure, thoughtful gifts from time to time are fine but the constant barrage of junk is not.

She went on to write that when she returned home from her trip, sans plastic light-up unicorn headband, her daughter ran towards her for a hug and kiss.

“Our relationship is the gift. The minute I start stuffing my suitcase full of trinkets is the minute she starts running to my suitcase instead of my arms.”

Being aware of our environments – both in the broader sense and at home – is key.

“If we want children to value relationships over stuff, we have to be intentional about the way we bring it into their lives. The way we buy will teach. I beg of you, for the good of your children and this planet, please stop buying plastic crap.”

Thank-you Denaye for these great words. To check out more of her work, visit Simple Families.