Holidays, Consumerism and Stress

Many of my students in school yesterday appeared a little on edge, displaying a higher level than normal of frustration and impatience with tasks in class. One student said to me “It’s because of the holiday tomorrow – everyone is stressed out.” I couldn’t help but think that if we got rid of holidays, this wouldn’t happen. But then I quickly diverted the message of that thought to If it weren’t for the corporate media message of “you’ve got to buy these gifts now and do all these things to prepare for the holidays” we could truly celebrate our cultural heritages without all the commercialism” (which might indeed actually get rid of some of these commerically created holidays!).

Years ago I made a conscious decision to live a more simple life. I still have a long way to go, but my lifestyle has changed dramatically from my early adulthood. I buy used clothing (or get it for free), hardly ever eat out, make my meals from scratch as much as possible, never watch TV, use mass transportation as much as I can, and hand create gifts or get them from locally owned businesses.

Most importantly, I attempt to provide that example in an open way so others may follow suit.

Inspired by Jen’s Green Journal, I have created a list of holiday gift giving ideas which provides alternatives to the typical frenzy via saturation of the media at this time of year.

There are a couple of campaigns organized to promote more support of locally owned businesses:
Buy Local First (Utah) and
Breaking the Chains:Buy Local, Organic, and Fair Made (Organic Consumers Association).

The day after Thanksgiving (the consumer world’s traditional “Black Friday”) is the traditionalBuy Nothing Day. As in years past I continue to be a participant in the singing of consumerism carols at a local
shopping center with the Radical Cheerleaders and other activists. We also have a “knit-in” and distribute literature on the pitfalls of consumerism.

My hope is always that some our action will give a few shoppers pause to think about what they are doing and how they can change their spending habits.

Someday I hope to be able to use the non-profit that Tom and I founded, Blue Sky Institute, to build a community center that will provide a space for people to gather and learn about issues such as this.

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