09/03/2011 08:31 EDT | Updated 11/03/2011 05:12 EDT

The Loot Bag Boycott

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. It's very generous to give loot bags. I truly appreciate the sentiment. But here's the problem: while we're gifting tons of kiddie gadgets that get played with for five minutes, then tossed into a landfill, there is a crisis in the Horn of Africa where children are going without food and water. Right now.

My point is simple: less landfill, more donations. A neighbor of ours chose to make a donation to charity in lieu of loot bags at a birthday. Beautiful! Not only were they helping, they were avoiding the environmental black hole that are loot bags.

The win-win idea is for all of us who are blessed enough to live in North America to take stock of the junk we throw out every day -- and find out how much of that could we have not bought in the first place? What portion of that junk am I willing to forgo, and instead, send some of the saved money to charity?

I've been to Africa. I've hung out with kids whose only possession is a ball made of leaves. And guess what -- that ball kicked *ss! They were grateful for it. Don't you think our kids can learn to be grateful with less? Can't we all?

I'm just a mom who's optimistic that we can still give our kids an abundant life, and also help other mothers feed their children in this time of crisis. That's balance. I believe we're a society out of control in terms of spending. Can you imagine the hungry kids' reactions to hear that not only do we have everything we need, we also have everything we don't need -- to the point that some of us have to rent storage space to put all of our excess?!

I think we can be motivated by gratitude, not guilt -- and make future birthday parties (or life in general) a show of celebrating all that we have, and the people we love, and also our beautiful, clean country, whose lands don't need to be littered with unnecessary knickknacks, and whose neighbors in Africa know we care. I think we can enjoy our own affluence even more when we share it, and in doing so, also create less landfill. It's just a thought; but one that I'll be keeping in mind when I forgo loot bags at my son's upcoming birthday, and donate the money saved to filling up some bellies.

It's the little things that count. They cost us almost nothing -- but could mean everything to some little child's chances of surviving this famine. Peace out.