Enter the shopping-free zone

There is no  black-Friday or cyber-Monday here. You are in a safe space. I will not try to sell you anything…even at drastically reduced prices. This is not a gimmick. There is nothing more. No special deals. There is simply no stuff.

We have entered the annual month-long national buying frenzy, which is always accompanied by articles and commentaries (like this one) rejecting commercial gluttony. But so what?

See, here’s the thing that gets me any time I think about our economy: it appears that capitalism, in order to survive, must grow steadily year over year. And, the way it grows is pretty much through consumerism. You want a strong economy? You want to avoid a calamitous national depression? You better get out there and BUY!

Do not watch this video with small children nearby. It is definitely X-rated for consumerist obscenity.

One take on our consumerism:

Finally, there’s a blog entry from zenhabits (thanks to web developer Bill Haenel):

Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Leo’s post comes complete with a pretty reasonable manifesto and a set of “challenge rules.” Leo suggests we extend Buy Nothing Day through the end of the year. He says:
Why the hell would you want to do this challenge?

Do it as a protest against consumerism and corporate influences on our lives. Do it as a tool for contentment, for simplicity. Do it to reclaim the holidays as a time of connection and love, not of buying and debt. Do it just to see if you can.

And yes, you can still do it if you’ve already done some Black Friday shopping. We’ll forgive our past sins and start afresh. 🙂

Again, see Leo’s complete manifesto and challenge rules, here.

So, NCPR readers, there you have it. I’m inclined to come down on the side of moderation: buy as little as possible. How about re-gifting as a code of the season–that is, give away stuff you already own. Nice things. Even cherished things. Funny things. Things to eat. Things to read (who doesn’t have a gazillion books gathering dust on over-loaded shelves).

Dale Hobson, our web manager, tells me he and his wife have purchased farm animals through Heifer International and “given” them to young family members, along with a book about how these animals help small scale farmers get started.

Tell us about your approach to the holiday giving season. Please comment below.

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4 Comments on “Enter the shopping-free zone”

  1. Bob Falesch says:

    Don’t buy gifts… That might be asking a lot, but there’s an alternative: Make gifts. Materials may need to be purchased but I don’t think that violates the spirit of this initiative. A self-made gift can have great impact and signal a deeper commitment than merely giving a purchased item.

  2. erb says:

    We all need to buy things. I try to make sure that the things I buy are the things I need. One way I do this is by eliminating advertising from my life as much as possible. Over the years I have gotten rid of almost every catalog using catalogchoice.com (it’s free); I use Adblock Plus to remove ads from websites that I visit (very effective); I don’t listen to commercial radio (don’t usually like the content) and do not own a TV.

    This might make my shopping inefficient: when I need a new coat, I have to spend some time searching stores and online for what I’d like, and I don’t always get the best price. But I don’t have 5 winter coats hanging in my closet because the sale was too good to pass up.

  3. Terence says:

    What on earth is in the boxes those people are fighting over? Life-saving medication?

    So discouraging. Good suggestions, though, about not succumbing to the gift-shopping frenzy.

  4. Lucy Martin says:

    That video is frightening.

    Of course, mobs are frightening.

    That one happens to express a shopping frenzy, but it could just as easily be fueled by something else.

    Nature seems able to create bounty without going over the cliff, so to speak.
    (Unlike our current uncontrolled growth model of a cancer-like economy.)

    Humans can be a clever species when they get serious about attaining important goals.

    We need to figure out how to base economies on a more creative/sustainable dynamic – and the sooner the better!

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