“A world without weapons, without McMansions in sprawling suburbs, without mountains of unnecessary packaging, without giant mechanized monofarms, without energy-hogging big-box stores, without electronic billboards, without endless piles of throw-away junk, without the overconsumption of consumer goods no one really needs is not an impoverished world. I disagree with those environmentalists who say we are going to have to make do with less. In fact, we are going to make do with more: more beauty, more community, more fulfillment, more art, more music, and material objects that are fewer in number but superior in utility and aesthetics. . . .”CHARLES EISENSTEIN
“Black Friday” – the one day of the year when retailers realize a joyous financial profit on their books or a sad red bottom line to present to their stockholders. We have been bombarded since before Halloween with ads for everything from two brand new vehicles (his and hers) in the driveway to watches that tell you what gender your baby will be to beer that will make you the most interesting man in the world.
Seriously, how many of us can afford one slightly used car let alone ‘his and hers’ brand new, expensive, bells and whistles-loaded marvels of the automotive industry? Where are these people who can actually afford what Madison Avenue is pitching? I believe these ads to be nothing more than a conspiracy by the powers of capitalism to make most of us feel inadequate and wanting.
“Oh, Lord, what a failure I am because I cannot buy that new cell phone for $800 nor afford a contractual plan that costs $150 per month. I must be lower than tub scum and certainly not as worthy as the Joneses next door.”
So, what do we do? Beginning Thanksgiving night before the turkey has settled and the dishes washed, we shop til we drop. We pack the car with friends or kids or spouses and head for the nearest WalMart or to the high-end stores at the mall or to the box stores littering our streets at every corner to acquire “stuff” that will probably be stored away or thrown out before black Friday arrives next year – to the attic or to the landfill. And, to add insult to injury, we have racked up credit card debt that thrills the card-holding companies in downtown Manhattan charging usury rates for the money which we don’t really have obliging us to spend the rest of next year paying back. Whew! Wasn’t that fun?
How about something different this year? In this capitalistic economy running amok, first of all shop locally – support your neighbors and community members by choosing thoughtful gifts that will be around long enough to become vintage or at least remembered. Forget about those silly stocking stuffers packed with stupid, useless trinkets. Fill the sock with lottery tickets. In most states, the money goes to worthy causes like education or senior citizens and your gift recipient will remember you for eternity if he/she wins big.
Shop as if the earth’s ecosystem depends on us for survival because it does. We don’t need more plastic with a 1000 year lifespan in landfills and the oceans. We don’t need more aerosol products to pollute the atmosphere. We certainly don’t need another squeaking, squawking, tear-producing doll that little Missy will throw in the closet the day after Christmas. When we shop let’s think everlasting, meaningful. Let’s imagine that item we are about to buy gracing someone’s life for years to come. And let’s get over the idea that a silly gift is more appreciated than our time given in selflessness to others. Time is an extremely precious commodity as valuable as diamonds or gold.
We have been fed a crock of nonsense. There is no scarcity. There is no deficiency. There is no reason to hoard or enter wars for the earth’s resources. When we turn our backs on the demands of out-of-control consumerism foisted on us by rampant capitalism, we will see the real beauty of our world in art, in music, in thriving neighborhoods, in nature, in enchantment, in the diversity of cultures, and in necessary goods that enhance our lives. There is no shortage when we escape the ‘shop til you drop’ mantra.