Sunday, November 09, 2008

Do Nothing, Save the World! "Black Friday" Goes Green on Buy Nothing Day

Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Of this triple mantra "reduce" is, in some ways, the hardest for folks to find quick and easy ways to implement in one's daily life.

Reducing consumption often feels too much like some sort of deprivation. For my grandparents, who lived through the Great Depression and WWII privations, the concept of thriftiness and making do with what you have was common sense.

But for that generation, and for many of their children, those days are over and the idea of voluntarily doing without where there is no imminent and identified threat is anathema.

Similarly, their grandchildren (my generation) were born in an era of plenty, grew up into the 1980s boom, and with the exception of gas rationing in the early 70's, have lived comfortably, even lavishly, without great difficulty.

Now, there are many ways to reduce consumption. But the whole thing starts with awareness. As noted in a previous post, The Story of Stuff is great introduction to the problem of over consumption. But it's not very specific, or personal. So here's a personal statement to make to remind yourself -- and our consumer driven culture -- that as people we are more than the sum of our stuff:

Celebrate "Buy Nothing Day," November 28

Stay home. Decline to participate in the consumer madness retailer's call "Black Friday," known as The Day After Thanksgiving to you and me. Stay home and make a present. Read a book (from the library of course).

Sure, plenty of people stay home to avoid the traffic and insanity, so don't celebrate Buy Nothing Day alone. Copy and reproduce the graphic below as your email signature for the next three weeks . . . remind folks -- and oneself -- that "reduce" is the first and most useful of the triple-mantra.

Going to miss a sale? Probably. But frankly, in most cases it will be cheaper later if you decide it is something you really do need. And by explicitly declining to participate in Black Friday we send a reminder to the industry and ourselves that a sustainable future is the, in the long run, the only future.

NOVEMBER 28, 2007

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