From the energy, trees, water and other resources needed to manufacture cards... to the pollution and carbon footprint involved in delivering them... to the waste of disposing of millions upon millions of them every year... isn't it time the holiday greeting card died a quiet, dignified death?
A show on this weekend that may be of interest to consumers (that's everyone) and musical theatre lovers (okay, not everyone):
The Church of Pointless Consumerism Friday, December 15 thru Sunday, December 17, 8pm Cambrian Hall - 215 East 17th Ave. at Main in Vancouver tickets $10-$15 (sliding scale)
It's being put on by The Work Less Party, who promote the idea that we should "Work Less, Consume Less, Live More", and is described as a "hilarious, satirical, musical theatre extravaganza" and "a christmas pageant that will have viewers on the edge of their pews" (does that sell it to ya?)
"Traveling evangelist, Peter Proffet the Prophet of Profit, along with his gospel choir are fully prepared to storm the city of Vancouver with the good words of Consumerism, Production, and more, more, MORE! The message will stir the congregation of faithful customers, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee of conversion for the *gasp* skeptics among us.
With wild sing-a-long musical numbers, dance routines and faith healing, The Church of Pointless Consumerism comes in a sexy package of enlightening, entertaining, down-home religious rejuvenation."
I'd heard of Black Friday before, but now I find that today is "Cyber Monday" -- the busiest online shopping day of the year:
Cyber Monday is the first Monday after "Black Friday" -- the day U.S. shoppers on their Thanksgiving break flood stores searching for holiday deals... retail analyst Jim Okamura noted that Canadians don't observe American Thanksgiving, so this Monday "is just another Monday in Canada."
On November 19, I posted the following comment on the Boil Water Advisory story thread. Kate encouraged me to repost it as part of my blog, but it's taken me till the day the advisory has been lifted to actually do it.
On commodification of water .. I agree that bottled water should not be encouraged. Think of the energy to produce all those millions of single-use plastic containers and transport them to market. A market that wouldn't exist if we didn't buy into its claims of purity, hipness, convenience, being a healthy alternative to soft drinks, etc. Access to clean water should be a basic human right, not a commodity for sale. Sure, we pay for the convenience of its safe delivery to our homes by way of taxes, as we do for other infrastructure and services for the common good in our society ( the GVRD's Medical Health Officers, for example), but when we can get water out of the tap for free, there is no sensible reason for the existence of a bottled water industry. So we might have to boil our tap water for a couple of weeks. Hopefully this minor inconvenience will make us all think about where our water comes from and how lucky we are to have it. If we don't pay attention, control of this vital natual resource could soon to lost to us.
Buy Nothing Day, the brainchild of artist Ted Dave, was first organized in Vancouver in September 1992 as "a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption." The campaign challenges consumers to go a day without buying anything -- "a 24-hour consumer detox." I remember being at the Railway Club one year on BND, when it was suggested that we wait to pay our tab till after midnight -- beer, after all, is something to buy (the irony was not lost on us that if we stayed later, we'd consume more.)
As soon as one heavily-marketed holiday is over, consumers are bombarded with the next. In Canada, it seems the Christmas decorations go up in stores before the Halloween candy gets discounted. South of the border, today, the day after American Thanksgiving, marks the launch of the Christmas shopping season. It is known as "Black Friday" because it is the point in the year when retailers' books move from the red to the black. The holiday season is often looked upon as make-or-break time, and can account for up to half of retailers' annual profits.
The first thing I ever bought with my 5-cents-a-week allowance was a bag of marbles. I think it cost 69 cents. After a few weeks of having money for the first time, the burning question for this six-year-old was, "what am I going to buy?" I didn’t even play marbles as a game. It was just to have them. I liked their perfect roundness, their colours inside clearness, the way they sparkled and the sounds they made clicking against each other.
In the context of trying to be a conscious consumer, sometimes that is the question. Of course there are further, interrelated questions, which lead to weighing options, then making the decision To Buy or Not To Buy.
The first might be: Why? Why would I buy something? Is it necessary? Food is necessary but do I want to stock up on groceries or grab take-out?
ask questions (to buy or not to buy? why?)... consider influences (advertising? fashion? it's on sale?)... read labels (what's in it? where was it made?)... weigh options (eg. support a local producer or get the best price?)... make choices that reflect my values (eg. local and organic is better for the environment)...