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Save the Planet, while Saving for Your Kids

Kids love getting presents. And most people love giving them. But for Planet Earth it’s no gift when piles of toys and clothes end up unused and discarded. The numbers are sobering. According to the LA Times, there are 300,000 items in the average American home. It’s safe to assume that a high percentage of them lie unloved in a kid’s bedroom. This is not a uniquely American problem. According to The Telegraph in the UK, British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (source: The Telegraph). 

This article will review the acute problem that afflicts parents and the planet. UNest is on a mission to provide a solution that works for everyone, from well-intentioned gift-givers to the most ardent environmentalists. We are not alone. A UNest and Harris Poll survey of 2,000 parents confirmed that 65% of Millennial parents actually prefer receiving money instead of physical gifts for their kids’ birthdays. 

A Costly Trek from Factory to Landfill

Each gift has its own story, and its own journey through a supply chain. Whether it’s a simple toy or a pair of pajamas, a physical present starts at a factory and then embarks on a trek by plane, boat, train and/or truck and car to a kid’s bedroom. Throw in some wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and a card, and a simple gift has quickly become a mini environmental maelstrom! Now factor in the likelihood that the gift is never used, or that a kid outgrows those pajamas after a couple of washes, and you end up with overflowing landfills of non-degradable items that will continue to pollute the planet for centuries. 

The problem is getting worse. We consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (Source: The Story of Stuff). When it comes to toys, we estimated the real-world cost of waste. We started with an average $21 toy that weighs in, with packaging, at 3.5 pounds. On a parallel track, we estimated that if the gift-givers sent money electronically rather than toys close to 10 tons of garbage would be eliminated for every $100,000 sent.      

The Gift That Transforms a Life

While not everyone agrees about climate change, there is an absolute consensus that kids should get a good financial start in life. One that ideally helps them avoid student loans and other debt. Most parents lie awake at night worrying about how they will afford to get their kids through college. All of this while contending with the additional stress caused by the junk around them. 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78% have no idea what to do with it (Source: Decluttr and The National Association of Professional Organizers). Break down the global implications to the overstuffed closet of each kid and the solution becomes quite a bit clearer. What will benefit the planet and the kid? Give money, not toys or clothes! 

Digital gifting, like the approach offered by UNest, significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with birthdays and Holidays. By reducing physical gifts and their associated wrapping, packaging, and shipping each family can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat climate change. Digital gifts reduce the amount of energy required to produce physical products, preserve natural resources, and reduce the levels of waste that end up in landfills and oceans.

Presents with a Lasting Impact

Of course, money has its own gifting supply chain, albeit one that can be way shorter and more friendly to the environment than toys or clothes. Driving three hours and handing over cash that gets used to buy a Potato Head burns a lot of gas. Plus, it reverses us back to the factory and the planes, trains and automobiles of that toy’s own particular supply chain. It’s not just about giving cash, but giving with a greater purpose and goal in mind.   

Being purposeful and pragmatic about the gifts you get for your kids can start before they are born. Baby showers are the ideal starting point in letting those around you know that you’d rather get cash than toys or clothes for at least some of the presents you receive. Envelopes containing cash are great. An even better way is to send out a link through a savings and investment app like UNest that makes it easy for friends and family to send money electronically. 

The word is getting around. At UNest we have processed $1,000,000 in digital gifts and estimated that it helped parents save 65,000 hours on shopping for gifts and wrapping them.  It has also helped avoid over 75 tons of toys and packaging ultimately destined for a landfill. That helps the environment while building a nest egg that sets up a child for financial freedom, ready to explore a cleaner planet!


This material is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. You should consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before engaging in any transaction. Information, including hypothetical projections of finances, may not take into account taxes, commissions, or other factors which may significantly affect potential outcomes. This material should not be considered an offer or recommendation to buy or sell a security. While information and sources are believed to be accurate, UNest does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information or source provided herein and is under no obligation to update this information.