After seeing one too many ads for “Black Friday sales”, I feel compelled to say something about wasteful consumerism and what we can do about it.
Go to any dumpster, and you will find lots of stuff purchased as holiday gifts in years gone by. In many cases, this stuff never got used.. it sat dormant in a closet, basement, garage or attic until it was moved out to make room for the next round of new stuff. And then the new stuff sits unused until its time comes to get cleared out.
Think of all the material resources consumed to make all this stuff. Think of the human energy exerted to turn these raw materials into new things. Think of the fuel burned by the boats bringing that stuff from China and the trucks bringing it from the West Coast. All this energy is spent to produce and move stuff that may never get used before ending up in a landfill in a few years.
We don’t need more stuff. This country already has plenty of stuff. The stuff just needs to be relocated to where it can best be used and appreciated.
So at holiday time, rather than going to the malls or their electronic equivalent, we should find gifts in our attics and store rooms. Those toys your kids weren’t interested in.. maybe a friend’s kids would enjoy them. That dress that you hated might look good on your mother.. or your daughter. The stuffed animal you no longer have room for could delight the new toddler in your family.
I will briefly acknowledge the push-back that are sure to come. Some of it is related to kids’ obsession with the latest electronic gadget (let’s set that aside for another day); some of it is related to Americans’ prejudice against any gift that’s not new and shiny (get over it).
At the very least, my hope is that you consider a trip to the store room as one of your holiday shopping “stops”. So much has been consumed already, it helps when we don’t need to consume more.