If Santa Were an Upcycler

Seasonal lore says Santa spends all year creating toys for good girls and boys, and then distributes everything in a single night. His elves work tirelessly in his North Pole factory, pumping out Xboxes, American Girl dolls, LeapFrog books, Barbie dream houses, legos, soccer balls, and other delights. Because everything is brand new, Santa does more than his part to stimulate the U.S. economy. But what if Santa and his elves tried upcycling instead?

First, the elves might spend a good part of the year collecting cast-offs. In fact, they could start on Christmas day, gathering up leftover packaging, wrapping paper, and disappointing gifts. (According to WikipediaAmericans throw away 25% more trash during the Christmas and holiday season than at other times of the year.) The elves can return when the tree comes down and scoop up the pounds of decorations that don't make it into the "Save for Next Year" storage boxes. 

The rest of the year, the elves would have to do what other upcyclers do. Can you imagine elves hanging out at your local thrift store? They'd have to wear disguises, of course. And I'd bet they'd prefer Goodwill over Value Village -- the very name is part of Santa's brand. (See the Santa Clause oath on Clausnet.com.)

Next, Santa might turn the tables and ask kids to make gifts for him (to give to others). He might even have a website with upcycling ideas and fun DIY crafts (like this elf cut-out). For some reason, Santa really likes the idea of being  memorialized using discarded toilet paper tubes (based on the number of pages devoted to this idea.) 

Finally, Santa might transform his brand completely by becoming a spokesperson for recycling itself. He could appear at green events throughout the year, admonishing kids not to be naughty by wasting resources. (See one artist's depiction of "Recycling Santa.") And no more coal in stockings -- instead, unrecyclable polystyrene plastics. 

Truth be told, Santa himself is an upcycled creation (or at least recycled). He's based on St. Nicholas, a Greek bishop from the 3rd Century, who did more helping than gifting. (He often gave bags of gold to poor families so that daughters could afford to marry.)

What would this protector and patron saint of children think of his 21st century incarnation?