As the holidays approach, we are often inundated with Black Friday Deals and “must-have” gift ideas. This year, we instead are highlighting Buy Nothing Day.
Founded in 1992, Buy Nothing Day is observed the Friday following Thanksgiving. As the name implies, the goal is to buy nothing, while also increasing awareness of consumerism and promoting alternative forms of gift-giving.
Buy Nothing has grown into a movement of neighborhood gift-giving all over the world.
The impacts of consumerism are widespread. The production and distribution supply chain alone has a devastating effect on our environment. We are currently overusing Earth’s natural resources by more than 70 percent. If the Earth’s population as a whole began to consume as the average American does, we would need 5.2 planets to support us.
Plus, landfills and natural environments are overrun with trash due to excess and throwaway culture. Multiple studies have concluded staggering facts on plastic waste: Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled in the United States, and 40% of plastic produced is single-use packaging.
Not surprisingly, public health is affected by consumerism. As companies try to meet demand and turn a profit, unfair labor practices run rampant. Commonly reported conditions include child labor, long hours, low wages, physical abuse and unsafe practices. Globally each year, more than 2.1 million deaths are attributed to poor working conditions. Unfortunately, many of us have likely purchased an item with a troubled history as many large, name-brand businesses often outsource their manufacturing.
What can we do about it? Shifting our habits and spreading awareness about the impacts of consumerism can lead companies to change their practices and reduce harm to the environment and the workforce.
Many of us still want to give our loved ones thoughtful gifts — and we can, because there are so many different ways to do so. Many suppliers are ethical and environmentally conscious. Shopping locally supports neighbors, small businesses, local economies and the environment.
Or perhaps the perfect gift is already out there. “Pre-loved” gifts are often unique and can have great value. Check out local thrift shops or garage sales, Nextdoor, OfferUp or a Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. Another option is to purchase experiences as gifts — such as tickets to concerts or sporting events — instead of manufactured goods.