"Sit and Spin" submitted by Pearse O'Halloran to Adbusters Media Foundation
Yesterday was the recommended "Buy Nothing Day" in North America. Today, November 28 is "Buy Nothing Day" for the rest of the world, when consumers (that means most of us) "participate by not participating." The Adbusters BND campaign has been written about in Treehugger with good points about the idea, from why only one day to buying green as an alternative. There are a lot of people facing financial difficulty who still want to play Santa for their kids and need the bargains. But who would want to face that crazy scene at big box stores at 5 a.m.?
Courtesy of Adbusters submission by Ioannis Fetanis
Surveys claim that the deal-seeking "doorbusters" on Black Friday are mostly buying stuff for themselves and that the deep discounts are for discontinued brands. The average person will spend about $390 this year on holiday gifts, according to the Conference Board Consumer Research Center (up a bit from last year but overall averaging lower than the norm), the economy being the driving factor. Though electronics are big, so are books, which it claims account for 41 percent of the presents purchased this year. E-readers are on the top ten list, too.
But the malls aren't the only place consumerism is afoot. One-third to one-half of the holiday purchasing will be done online per a division of credit agency Experian, and QVC experienced a record breaking day yesterday. But is shipping stuff via planes and trucks offering a lower carbon footprint? What about the trend to buy locally made goods? Perhaps another day to make a symbolic gesture to "buy nothing" is Cyber Monday--or Cyber Sunday, since no one waits to use the high-speed office computer to surf for online bargains.
Less consumerism is important, but there are many possibilities. And certainly it's always best to choose environmentally conscious gifts. One year, I recycled gifts I'd been given - nice things, not unwanted junk. Another year, I made stuff. Our family has a theme: only perishable, comestible or combustible items--from soup to nuts--literal consumables like candles, creams, seeds--nothing that will end up in landfill, all packaged in recycled cloth, paper, bags, or some other inventive idea.
Most of us don't need a lot more stuff. Not being driven by the latest gadget, sale incentive, and marketing ploy is a worthwhile way to make a statement about bringing the "consumption machine to a grinding - if only momentary - halt," as culture-jamming Adbusters says. There are lots of gift options, including philanthropy. Some still want to give generously, while others believe less is more--but either way, more thought is in the true spirit of the season.