Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day/A Holiday Rant


The day after Thanksgiving "traditionally" marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season, but this year Christmas appeared on store shelves even earlier than usual. I was simultaneously delighted and appalled by seeing plastic Halloween lawn-display zombies displayed side-by-side with Christmas banners proclaiming "Peace." The perverse juxtaposition (intentional or not) appealed to my sick sense of humor. The thought of all the throw away plastic crap being sold in the name of "celebrating the season" turned my stomach.

I would rather be beaten with sticks than venture anywhere near a store today. Frankly, I do best if I stay out of malls altogether at this time of year.

I'm not a religious person, but I believe that Jesus would be horrified by the orgy of consumerism that has been tied to his birth. By now, Robb knows that when I start my rant out about how the Three Kings would have taken back their gifts to the Christ Child if they saw how the giving of those gifts had been perverted, it is time to steer me away from the stores.

I'll be honest. I find American Christmas crass and wasteful.

Americans are drowning in cheap knick-knackery and debt, and yet we engage in a frenzy of purchasing, all in the name of holiday spirit.

Picture Christmas morning. Everyone around the Christmas tree, ripping into presents. Now picture the resulting garbage bag filled with wrapping paper and packaging. Imagine your household's garbage bag, out on the curb with the bags from everyone on your block. Now imagine the pile of trash created by every household in America. Most of that stuff was manufactured somewhere in the third world, and shipped around the the planet, so we could buy it and promptly throw it away.

Why do I bring this up, now?

Well, it is no accident that all this has been on my mind each time I hold a terrified bird as someone jams a hydration tube down the bird's throat in a desperate attempt at saving animal's life. I've been thinking about this as the number of animal deaths climbs to over two thousand. I've been thinking about this when I realize that our seemingly unquenchable appetite for cheap consumer goods is partially to blame for all this carnage.

All that cheap throw-away crap is carried on container ships, just like the one that rammed into the Bay Bridge and ripped open its fuel tanks in the process.

Was it safe for the ship to be sailing in such dense fog? Stop asking questions! We can't interrupt the flow of goods from one end of the world to the other!

How about the endless list of lead-tainted products imported from abroad? Stop asking questions! We want the cheapest possible prices!

Deadly imported foods?

Questionable working conditions for the factory employees who make all this stuff?

Dead birds? Poisoned waters? Ruined fisheries?

Only thirty one days until Christmas!



phyto said...

Unfortunately the majority of folks (all over the world - not just in the US) don't think twice about the amount of oil that goes into the production and consumption of everything from food to the manufacturing of toys and goods as well as the transport of these imported cheap third world labor goods...

Do yourself, the planet, and everyone else a favor - buy from a local company this holiday season and try to reduce the distance that your food travels so that you're using less oil to ship it.

Anonymous said...

My water bottle is a year old since I keep refilling it when I take it with me to places. I really try to avoid using any plastic products but in reality it is impossible in todays world, unfortunately. I was cheered to read today of a bamboo based computer, in the new, however.

I really tried to concentrate while reading your latest blog, but the sound of constant cash registers drowned out any bit of peace I could have had today.

I am going to make bird houses out of scrap wooden pallets this year for Xmas. What sort of birdhouse would our water birds use?

I have heard there is a big increase in products made by the local Amish this year, as everything they make is handmade in the USA, and without lead paint! YAY!

I saw a big and beautiful falcon today perched on the top of one of my wooden forms I built in our backyard made out of fallen branches. The field in back of us is full of crunches up corn cobs and hungry mice.


Anonymous said...

While I work hard to reduce my use of packaging and waste, as a letterboxer I consume a lot of foreign made products. My signature stamp is carved from a block of Mastercarve, made in Mexico. I use Lock n Locks, which I believe are made in Korea? My Versa pigment inks are made in Japan, my Ziploc bags and Sharpies and Staedtler tools are all made overseas. While I buy each and everything from local and USA based businesses, every g.d. one of them was made somewhere else except MAYBE PZ Cut. And god knows where the chemical components came from and how the the byproducts are disposed....

More to chew on....


Anonymous said...

Oh, I couldn't have ranted about the Xmas thing better myself! WWJD, indeed.


shiloh said...

I share your feelings. I constantly think about the same things.

Here's the problem.We as Americans want the cheapest price on what we buy but we also want the highest pay we can get.(I fall into that myself)but you can't have both. If American workers are to be paid a good wage then the company passes the cost on to the consumers. A good example is fruit. American farmers can't use most pesticides so their crops are sometime small due to loss. Forign farmers can use whatever they want so we can get apples from Chile cheaper than they can be grown here.

I don't know what the answer is but I know it has to be out there somewhere

Anonymous said...

Not bad theology at all Lisa, add to your thoughts how all of that cashflow could be used to help wipe poverty from the face of the earth and you are right on. I wonder how many people in Rawanda we could provide with clean water for the cost of one plastic Christmas tree? I happen to know that wells cost about$75.00 and can provide water for over 100 people a day. Jesus could walk into a lot of Christmas celebrations today and no one would have any idea who He was.
(Pastor) Bubba
Peas In A Pod

gale said...

Would you be willing to copy your Black Friday post into Voices?

Maybe we could start a alternative Christmas topic there soon too?
Gale (Yeimaya)


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