Consumer Conscience: Buy Nothing Day Friday


Buy Nothing DayOn your mark, get set, don’t go! The starting gun on the “holiday shopping season” goes off at midnight Thanksgiving night. To perk up slagging sales, major retailers are opening their doors early to make the “biggest shopping day of the year” the longest, as well. As the Seattle PI reports, about 133 million people will shop this weekend in the U.S. The retailer’s strategy is to mark down the merchandise as much as possible to move their inventory.

Adbusters and others have anointed Friday as an unofficial holiday for people who are trying to fend off the allure of more and more stuff (and, possibly, bring more “meaning” to the holiday season.) Buy Nothing Day has been “celebrated” since 1992. According to Wikipedia, Adbusters states:

It isn’t just about changing your habits for one day” but “about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.

Things to do on Friday instead of shopping ’til you drop:

– Nurse your Thanksgiving hangover by napping and thinking about the things you said you were thankful for yesterday: did your list include a cheap plastic toys and designer shoes? As you design your holiday season, reflect on your “thanks” list. Maybe instead of presents, focus on embellishing the things that add value to your life. Did your list include “my family,” “my home,” “my health”? Make your holiday season about those things, and leave the stressful shopping behind. You’ll have a great jumpstart on next year’s list of things to be grateful for.

– To get ready for a batch of new things, round up all the toys, clothes, tchatchkes, tools, appliances, and anything else you can think of that you no longer need or use. Fill boxes with them and give to Goodwill, NW Center, Value Village, consignment shops (where you might get a discount on future purchases), local shelters or give them away on Freecycle or Craig’s List.

– Research your gift list. If you’re like me, you’ve been trying to come up with the perfect-est gifts for everyone. So, let’s say you want to get your Hubby socks (I’m not giving away any secrets.) You could go to your local mall and buy 3 pairs for $6. But, maybe you could find organic hemp socks that will last longer, feel better and be better for the environment. The idea is to be more thoughtful about each gift — quality over quantity.

– Review your calendar — make time for memories. Chances are, when your kids are grown, they’ll remember the family outing to get a tree, the Nutcracker performance or cooking batches of cookies much more than any gift in particular (though, to be honest, I’ll always remember getting a Walkman and my first 10-speed-bike.)

– If you do shop, lessen the impacts by visiting a store that features locally made, organic, fair trade items.

Anyway, the point is, enjoy the holiday season — soak in the music, smell the cookies, stroll downtown window shopping, relax with your friends and family. Indulge. Be conscious of every bite. And be conscious of the impact of everything you buy, both on the environment and on the recipient.
Posted by K.C. Ridihalgh at November 21, 2007 4:51 p.m.

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