The Cambrian

This doesn’t have to be a season of disposable dreams

Discarded items along the side of the highway can range from sofas to plastic containers to shoes, like the one pictured.
Discarded items along the side of the highway can range from sofas to plastic containers to shoes, like the one pictured.

Returning from the great Northwest, our hearts full of family love, we had much time to reflect while driving down the interstate. Often on the brink of joyful tears as we recounted details of the visit, we were also comfortable in silence, just … feeling it. But there was one stop to attend to and then there was … traffic!

It began when we stopped at the big outlet mall south of Portland. I do not frequent these places, but my companion had needed some shoes and, well, so did I frankly, so we had picked some up here on the way north. I discovered I should have gotten a different size, so I asked to make a “brief” stop on the way south to exchange them. Holy guacamole!

No parking at the mall (maul!), let alone what we’d discover inside the shop, prompted us to just drop me off while the other cruised the lot. It was almost fortuitous that the style I’d chosen was already out of stock, for the checkout line was horrendous! (This was Saturday, by the way — I refuse to go out on Black Friday!)

“Quick, let’s get outta here before we get swallowed up!” I thought. ’Tis the season to be buying too much junk! Why? Why do we continue to heap tons of plastic, short-life, non-enriching crap on each other? Even nice wool or cotton or wood items? I confess, I supported a tiny shop by the side of the highway in Oregon by buying some handmade items for gifts. Useable gifts, I believe, but … there you are!

“Look at how much trash is all along this road! Everywhere!” my companion exclaimed. Indeed, the entire artery of the West Coast (Interstate 5) was littered with mostly plastic bits, but there was the occasional recliner (out of someone’s truck loaded for a move?) and string of clothes (with a crushed suitcase connected to the presumed trajectory).

“I’m guessing that given the speed with which we travel on this road and lack of maintenance dollars, no one gives a hoot what happens here,” I ventured.

But that’s the point. Nobody cares about the cups and toys and tools and wood and plastic bags and bottles that fly out of or off of a vehicle because they will just get more/another!” Consume, consume, consume. Mind you, a lot of this highway passes through some demographically financially challenged neighborhoods, so I’m guessing they have to work harder to acquire this stuff. But, no, it is mostly trash. Even glancing in yards and fields, there is a glut of seemingly worthless trash piled up high. It is not my place to judge, but, why do we get it in the first place?

Many of you have already gotten your Christmas/Chanukah list filled before Thanksgiving. But, if you haven’t please consider the impact of what you purchase. I know, I know, I harp on this every year. But, I am compelled to remind us all of the fact that we need to be more mindful of our purchases and actions.

How about homemade cleaning products or beauty products in reusable containers with the recipe to make their own that they may refill the containers. How about donations to their favorite charity (or yours if they don’t have one)? Gift certificates to local businesses — including thrift shops, mechanics and grocery stores — support our neighbors and are actually useful.

At least try to buy them only one thing instead of 12 hot-pink-fuzzy-wide-eyed-ugly dolls or yet another mug they’ve no room for or … whatever. I love the holidays, truly, I do! I lovvvvvvvve to give. I love to make. So, this is not about being a Scrooge. It’s about giving to the planet as much as to each other. Spend time together. Do things for each other. Spread love. That is the greatest gift that never goes out of season or fashion!

Dianne Brooke’s column appears weekly and is special to The Cambrian. Visit her website at Email her at