The Best Holiday Shopping Tip This Year (Updated)

BUY LESS.  No, seriously.  Think about this:

Fast Company wrote that the National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend almost $475 billion dollars this holiday season.

On November 7th I listened to Dr. Tadataka (Tachi) Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speak about how healthcare in the United States is a $2 billion dollar institution and any organization, or individual, that attempts to improve the healthcare system in the United States would need more than $2 billion dollars based on how the business of market impact works today.

What about $475 billion dollars?  Does that sound like enough?

Think about if we all bought half as much.  That’s about $237 billion dollars. 

What problems could we fix if we had $237 billion dollars? 
According to Dr. Yamada, we have a shot with healthcare.  But there is also education, national disaster relief and debt to consider – among many other broken institutions. Not only would we have $237 billion dollars to spend on significant issue in our society, but also reap the benefits of less consumerism:  we would create a lot less trash from our all gift garbage (have you been to a landfill lately?), we would need less oil for the shipping trucks and our cars to transport all the gifts, and – best of all – you’ll probably be spared receiving that handful or crap gifts from co-workers, friends and relatives that feel obliged to give everyone something.  Oh, and you’ll be spared needing to rush out with the holiday crowd to get gifts for them.  See? Everybody wins!!

So next time you’re thinking about joining the droves of holiday shoppers this year, think about the gift of giving and what that could mean for you and your family this year if you bought less.

Where to Start (Update)
Ann (Grease Girl) made an excellent suggestion for a web site that has a great assortment of non-material gift suggestions: http://www.changingthepresent.org/:

Our gift registries and wish lists are a wonderful way to let your friends know just how you would like to commemorate a birthday, wedding, memorial, or any special event. Whether you ask them to provide a child with her first book, fund an hour of cancer research, or dig a well in Kenya, your friends can make a donation and send you a beautiful, personalized greeting card to announce the gift.

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2 Comments »

  1. Ann said

    This is a great post.  This year I told my family that I wanted to stop giving birthday gifts and we\’ve mostly abided by it.  I think the reason this continues and spirals out of control (besides our addiction to consuming) is that no one wants to take the first step and say, "Let\’s not do presents," because they will be labeled a Scrooge.  At least when you stop birthday gifts you can do it just before your own birthday when people are typically thinking about/dreading getting you presents and want to hear what you want.
     
    What we should do is create a classy way people could stop giving gifts like donating to a non-profit in their name or promoting fun sites for white elephant gift exchanges so you only have to find one gift (and it can be a regift!).
     
    Do we really need more fruitcakes in the landfill?

  2. Ann said

    Check this out:

    Here\’s a great site: http://www.changingthepresent.org/

    Gift Registries and Wish Lists
    Our gift registries and wish lists are a wonderful way to let your friends know just how you would like to commemorate a birthday, wedding, memorial, or any special event. Whether you ask them to provide a child with her first book, fund an hour of cancer research, or dig a well in Kenya, your friends can make a donation and send you a beautiful, personalized greeting card to announce the gift.

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