Consumerism: naughty or nice?

Julia Weinrod

From mid-November until the end of each year, shopping for gifts and searching for sales takes over the minds of many. Like clockwork, after Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales lead to Cyber Monday discounts which transition into Christmas bargains. Limited-time offers and buy-one-get-one deals pressure people to buy items that they may not need, in quantities they won’t use. Paring back to a short and simple list saves time, money, and helps the environment, without many sacrifices.

I don’t blame my younger self for wanting long lists of clothes and electronics, but this year I want to buy less. American consumerism encourages frequent shopping and capitalism demands it for economic growth. “Holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday deliver supposed savings, but what they really celebrate is buying things you didn’t know you wanted until they were half-off. Discounts can be useful for those needing to save money, but excessive gift-giving is harmful. We can’t survive without any consumption, but we’ve certainly gone too far in the wrong direction.

Instead of shopping mindlessly, I will choose gifts for myself and others that support my values and intentions. Those who have the means to should do the same. Shop from small businesses, Black-owned, and women-owned companies; or purchase used items. Support green companies and find products requiring little packaging or transport. Some people even choose to celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead of Black Friday as a protest against materialism and consumerism.

This holiday season, I will be looking for higher quality and a lower quantity of items. We should all buy things we love and keep them, maintain and repair them, and know how to properly dispose of them. Holiday deals should be used to purchase things we need at a discount, and we should use the time saved to give back to our communities (and not just for the community service hours). There is joy in opening presents and cards, but giving back should not be forgotten. •