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Dominique Garcia and Elizabeth Sanchez
Santa Fe High School Advocacy Journalism Class
America has become attached to a consumer cycle. We buy. We sell. We waste. We feel empty. We repeat. Why? How can our greed be satisfied? Other countries are changing their ways, while we remain trapped in this dungeon of consumption, dragging the chains of want and “need.” The word is repeated so often that its meaning has become linked with overindulgence.
In the UK, Canada and Australia, Buy Nothing Day has arrived! Each year it is celebrated the day after Thanksgiving. There are even public service announcements on national television. Buy Nothing Day was started by the culture-jamming group, AdBusters, the same group that helped start the Occupy movement last year. Teens are finding fun ways to spend Buy Nothing Day together and give back to their communities. Check out the youth-created videos on YouTube! Here in the US, where those PSAs are banned, you have the chance to give worthwhile gifts, while helping our natural and social economy (that means the Earth and our social lives among family, friends and neighbors).
Usually, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, we wait in lines and stomp all over each other for items on sale. In the last few years there have even been incidents of guards, store employees and even a pregnant woman being trampled to death! Is a half-price X-Box worth a human life? Why can’t we share our love by hand-making something or by giving certificates of a promise to spend time together instead of buying something expensive that will later be thrown away for the next shiny new toy? We are living in a world of poverty. We should be helping out others less fortunate by donating time and money to programs such as Santa Fe’s Food Depot, St. Elizabeth’s shelter, or distributing supplies at Adelante. If we all just experienced even one day of buying nothing and realizing what we can actually accomplish with that money, maybe we wouldn’t be so deep in poverty, financially and spiritually.
Every day we are overwhelmed with advertisements. They reach out to us through bus stop windows, coffee mugs and magazines—each screaming for us to desire more pointless stuff. Teens are constant victims of such media pressure. We crave only the latest and greatest. Fashion trends are constantly pushing old styles back in time and to the back of a closet. New inventions are only desirable for brief moments in time. It is not enough to have last year’s iPhone, but rather, the new version, which usually only has slightly improved features. Adults and young children also play a major role in this consumer cycle by constantly using bribery of material goods to get what they want from each another.
Our “First-World” country often forgets that other parts of the globe exist, and not only could they use some of our “garbage,” but that they often suffer in the process of manufacturing a lot of that stuff we consume. Here in the US, restaurants serve large portions, which end up wasted or thrown in the back of the refrigerator in Styrofoam; forgotten until the smell reaches past the milk carton.
Buy Nothing Day inspires us to reach out and understand that the true spirit of the holidays does not involve materialistic items, but rather, being around those we love. One may be able to volunteer, lend an ear (or shoulder), and step outside into the Real World, knowing that a single voice truly can make a difference. Here are some resources you can google to learn more: Buy Nothing Day, AdBusters, Free Range Studios, The Story of Stuff, The Story of Electronics, The Cost of Cool, Merchants of Cool.
Here are some alternatives to do on Buy Nothing Day:
*Spend time with family and friends
*Make handmade presents for the upcoming winter holiday break
*Type up and decorate fancy certificates of service (hugs, housecleaning, a walk together)
*Take a hike in one of our wonderful outdoor places
*Cook food together, make adobe-style gingerbread houses
*Make music together, take photos, play, laugh, frolic
* Meditate on having a Zen Holiday!
Nikki Garcia is a senior. She plays of the varsity basketball team, fixes cars and is interested in becoming a journalist. Elizabeth Sanchez, a sophomore, is a poet and is active in a variety of service clubs.
About the author
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