The United States of Crapmerica

I have a recurring nightmare in which I am being buried alive in a field of small, colorful, plastic trinkets.  As I gasp for breath and furiously try to dig my way out, another bucket-full of plastic gets dumped on my head.  No matter how hard I try, I just cannot reach air.

Oh, wait.  It’s not a nightmare.  It’s real life.  At least real life in America.

You know what I’m talking about.  The endless stream of magnets, mugs, bookmarks, and key-chains that makes its way into our homes.  And the wedding and birthday party “favors.” Ain’t nobody doin’ me any favors by giving me a large magnet with a cutesy, kiss-y engagement picture of themselves.  Or giving my kid a bag full of kids’ lip gloss, cheap jewelry, and erasers too tiny to use.

I am tempted to bar my kids from ever leaving the house because every time they do, they acquire a new piece of junk – stickers at the doctor’s, small toys-of-the-week at swim lessons, lollipops at the bank, bouncy balls at the dentist, tiny themed erasers at the city festival, cross-themed rubber bracelets at the Easter service.  Because obviously small, pastel, plastic tchotchkes have everything to do with the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God.


Why do we do this to ourselves, America?  And to the earth?  Why must we trash our homes, our oceans, and our sanity with this endless stream of silly, cheap, plastic junk?

The stack of craft projects and worksheets ever mounting on our counters is enough for most parents to manage.  Why must we heap innumerable cheap toys on top of this?  The plastic is not even recyclable.  The stickers will only get used to “decorate” back windows of minivans.  (I grieve with you, fellow mom, driving around in your expensive, late model Honda Odyssey that’s been completely defiled by 87 stickers of Elsa and Sponge Bob.)

How do you manage the stream of junk flowing into your homes?  Do you have ideas on how to limit it?  Or, better yet, on how to change our society so we stop giving people plastic junk all the time?  Is it like this anywhere else?

© Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2015.


4 thoughts on “The United States of Crapmerica

  1. For those of you who are teachers and wish to bribe your American youngsters into learning, try this. Empty your cheap, plastic junk drawer into a colorful bag. Take it to school and offer its hidden contents as “neat stuff” for which other people’s children will compete. You will accomplish two things: 1) Offloading your pile on someone else, and 2) Improving children’s education. The only catch is when your own children who might be in your class “win” someone else’s junk. Ugh.


  2. This is exactly what our daughter’s kindergarten teacher did, Aaron. And, she, a woman with only one child bringing home “free gifts”, managed to supply 18 kids with “prizes” every month for an entire school year. How are those of us with more children and no classroom to unload the junk onto supposed to dig out?


  3. Julie Longacre

    stuff is exhausting!! we are also trying to dig out! it’s a never-ending battle. i have no answers, but i feel your pain. thanks for putting words to it all. it’s a blessing to have rick at this conference! but i’m eager for time with you, as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Birthday parties: why do it this way? | Thinking about such things

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