It’s that time of year again—when people trample each other to death upon the release of a new gaming system. When the latest, cutest toy causes fistfights in the aisles of department stores across the country. When the prospect of being first to have it or having the most of it is primary. When the reality that this stuff actually requires trees to be chopped down, mountains to be blasted away, animals to be tortured and killed, and fellow people to endure the effects of the cheapest production possible is obscured by expensive campaigns telling us that we need it to be happy. When swarms of average moms and dads spend most of their savings on stuff they and their kids really don’t need to be happy or healthy, and when the few people at the tippy-top of this business model convince us that greed, observance of tradition, and loyalty to an insane economic system are written in our DNA.
Thankfully, there is something incredibly powerful that you can do to help people, animals, and the environment this holiday season. It’s something so easy that you can do it in your sleep. But in order for it to be effective, you’ve got to get other people in on the action. What is this miracle, you ask? Easy! Buy nothing.
The equation is easy to understand: if we want to survive on this planet for a while, we have got to consume less. Less oil, less metal, less paper, less stuff we don’t need. Less stuff that causes pollution. Less stuff that requires sweatshops. Less stuff that is just meaningless crap. The planet is not a stockpile of infinite resources, and the wrecking-ball of shopping that starts on the intolerable Black Friday and tears through forests, mountains, river-systems, and any animals or people in the way is only made worse by taking the overly-packaged junk we buy and adding one more unnecessary layer of wrapping. And ribbons. And bows. And cards. I mean, it all sure looks pretty under the tree, but seriously? Is this the spirit of giving that was intended by anyone but companies producing this stuff? This psychosis could only be justified if we lived in a world where products were not made from the very animals, trees, rocks, and liquids that hold ecosystems together, but instead, just materialized out of thin air. Poof! Like magic. And even though these hijacked holidays only come once a year, the toll that’s taken is devastating. Our demand for stuff is what turns trees into wrapping paper, mountaintops into soda cans, and animals into coats and shoes.
This, my friends, is why I advocate a paramount celebration of Buy Nothing Day. It is an injection of sanity into the insane idea that forms the basis for our economic structure: that natural resources are infinite. It is one of the few times when doing nothing at all is one of the most powerful statements we can make. Sure, it may feel awkward at first to explain this to friends and family, but soon you’ll feel liberated, and you’ll have more money to spend on important things like bills and food.
Buy Nothing Day doesn’t mean you can’t still give gifts and have a great time—it just means you should use your own craftiness, ingenuity, and resourcefulness to get some presents together without requiring vast amount of resource extraction, duh! For example, a few years ago I made my delicious Chocolate & Cinnamon Vegan Rugelach recipe for everyone.
Make a plan. Tell your friends and family that this holiday you’d prefer not to exchange gifts, and instead, exchange words, a meal, a craft, an experience, or just friendship! It’s the easiest thing to not do. On Friday, November 25, sit back, relax, and buy nothing.
Photo by Ryan Pfluger
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