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Give Thanks, Don’t Try To Buy It

Gretchen K. Aleks

Finally! The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. For an MIT student, Thanksgiving is probably most closely associated with the semester being practically finished, those final projects and papers that have been punted all term coming due, and finals approaching. For the rest of the population, Thanksgiving is more commonly associated with other things: big family dinners, lots of leftovers, and shopping the day after the holiday.

This year Adbusters magazine is publicizing National Buy Nothing Day in an attempt to rid Thanksgiving of that last association. The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Retailers sell a lot on that particular day, and it also kicks off a shopping season that lasts until Christmas in which consumers shop and spend like there’s no tomorrow. Unfortunately, Americans aren’t overly consumeristic only around the holidays; many feel it is our God-given right to consume as much as we possibly can. This belief is especially apparent in the proliferation of SUVs. Despite the fact that SUVs make the road unsafe for drivers in normal cars, are totally unnecessary for everyday driving in urban areas, and get poor gas mileage, which translates into the production of lots of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, many Americans still buy these behemoths. Unfortunately, there are no deterrents to buying SUVs: gas taxes are kept low because, by golly, if an American wants to drive his big bad off-road vehicle to the corner grocery store, nothing should stand in his way, especially not a tax designed to regulate his socially-irresponsible behavior.

We should join Adbusters in turning our back on the rampant consumerism in today’s society. Not only should we all refrain from buying anything this Friday, Nov. 29, but also we should strive to make this holiday season less materialistic. Anyone who needs to give Christmas gifts should consider, rather than buying a gift at the local mall, visiting <http://www.heifer.org>, the homepage of Heifer International. Heifer International is an organization attempting to promote sustainability in the third world. Donors give money to Heifer International, which in turn purchases livestock to give to a family in a needy area. For instance, for twenty dollars, a family will receive a flock of ducks, which will provide them with eggs and poultry, but will also provide agricultural benefits by eating insects and providing organic fertilizer. The family will therefore benefit for many years from the original flock of ducks and its offspring; additionally, a condition for receiving livestock from Heifer International is that the family will then give some of the offspring to another family. In this way, multiple families benefit for multiple years from one small gift. This is a much better return than you would get by purchasing a CD or a sweater.

Instead of shopping on Friday, go volunteer at a homeless shelter, a blood drive, or a retirement home. Instead of harming society by playing into a game which creates lots of waste and drives inequity in society, do something beneficial, even if it is just staying at home and working on a problem set. Whatever you do, buy nothing, and try to minimize your consumption through the season.