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A Childrens Story for Christmas

I have been blessed with 5 grandchildren (so far). Among which are 2 boys aged 4 and 6 both being educated within the borough of Southwark in South London.

Whilst theirs is not quite the traditional Christmas festival of the past, one omission is the banning of balloons. That’s right, no more can children bring balloons to parties, be it Christmas or birthdays as they are ‘single use plastic’. The children were even told about the plastic polluting the oceans which results in whales and birds dying whilst fish eat the plastic by mistake.

It is not known if this ‘teaching’ is Southwark’s educational policy or just teachers putting their own slant on what they have read in the press or seen on the TV. Whilst no one wants to decry children learning about plastic waste, indeed any sort of waste, surely at 4 and 6 years of age there is not much chance of them acquiring a balanced view of where their party balloons fit into the world of waste generated in the festive season.

For example

  • We send 1 billion Christmas cards generating around 260,000 tonnes of waste and we use around 108 million rolls of wrapping paper generating around 227,000 tonnes all using millions of trees
  • We use 40 million rolls of sticky tape
  • We use 6 million Christmas trees
  • We use 500 tonnes of Christmas lights every year
  • We also generate an extra 60,000 tonnes of waste glass from wine bottles
  • How many millions of tonnes of extra CO2 are generated with all the Christmas and New Year fireworks?

In all, over the Christmas period, we generate an extra 3 million tonnes of extra waste, of which circa 15,000 tonnes is plastic waste from packaging (I don’t have the figures for balloons).

So, if (quite rightly) we are going to teach our children about the hazards created by plastic waste, shouldn’t this be done in the context of the whole packaging waste problem created by consumerism?

We really need a sense of perspective.

Shouldn’t they be told that the whole of Europe’s 740 million people, plus the 327 million that live in the USA, are responsible for less than 2% of plastic in the World’s oceans. Whilst China alone is responsible for 28%.

They should be told that between 90-95% of plastic waste in the oceans comes from just 10 rivers, all in the East.

However, if we accept that at 4 and 6 years old it is far too young for them to absorb such information then should we also accept they should not be made to feel guilty for having balloons at their Christmas party?

When you read this I will be sharing a Disney cruise for Christmas with the 4 and 6 year old and their 12 month old sister. Wish me luck, just as I wish you and yours an excellent Christmas along with a healthy successful 2020.

As ever I welcome your views on any of the points made and why not join me on LinkedIn for more regular contact.



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Gregory Morris

Your articles are always very interestinga and I don't know whay this doesn't get into the news to educate all of us. You need to get this on social media.

Geraldine O'Brien

My thoughts entirely. What is the point of penalising certain markets and producers within the UK , UNLESS we address the issues with the main CULPRITS ..'C' word again ! This must be a global situation as with all pollution and recycling issues. Unfortunately we are not educating by transmitting the complete picture so that the public can make correct decisions for educating the next generation ! Have a lovely Disney Christmas in the meantime.

Peter Lennie

Brilliant as always ........... this article should be shared with every head teacher and everyone who loves Christmas .......... my very best wishes to Barry and your family - have a fantastic Disney adventure.

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