Ungreen in the USA: Black Friday

Having posted yesterday, as part of my ongoing ramblings on things I love about America, on the green joys and virtues of Thanksgiving, I couldn't let today go by without some mention of Black Friday. After all, it makes a perfect addition to my thoughts on things I hate about this country too. C'mon, you didn't think I'd gone completely soft, did you? Now the green arguments against Black Friday seem hardly worth getting into. What can be good about a day where people line up for hours to buy carloads of stuff, much of it that they almost certainly don't nee?. But lest I come across as a sanctimonious European, let me be totally clear—the UK and Europe are just as bad. Go down to London on the first day of the sales and you'll just as likely see a hoard of rampaging shoppers ripping each others eyes out to get to the latest video game console, or whatever.

I think what I find so upsetting about Black Friday is not the consumerism itself (yes, I buy stuff, I like buying stuff, and I think it is important to love your stuff), it's the fact it comes so soon after one of my favorite holidays I have ever experienced. No sooner do I feel like the world has taken a breather from its mustbutmorestuffnow mentality, and low and behold, shopping is back—and it's more crazy than ever.

Yes, I know our economy runs on buying things. And more shopping means, to some degree, more jobs. But what happened to quality, not just quantity? The recent financial crisis shows just how much trouble we can get ouselves into when greed, consumption and easy debt go unchecked. Do we really need to keep going like hamsters on a wheel just to stay afloat? Luckily, there are those who are turning their back on Black Friday, declaring the day after Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day.

So, sorry folks, we're back to a tie on the love/hate scale. Although I guess the fact that my beautiful daughter and wife are American citizens, and that this really is one of the most vibrant, interesting (and infuriating) countries I know of, means that it's never really going to be a fair contest. Love conquers all in the end anyway...

Tags: Activism | Consumerism | Economics | United States