December 9, 2011

Why I Am Having A Buy Nothing Xmas

You don't have to BUY a gift to GIVE a gift
I don't participate in conventional Christmas any more, at least not when it comes to the shopping part of it. No, this year is another Buy Nothing Xmas for me, and because of that, I will be skipping all the hazards of the seasonal shopping frenzy.

As Linus, of Peanuts cartoon fame discovered, "Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous!" These days you never know when you might get pepper sprayed by a hyper-competitive super shopper lunging for an Xbox.

But personal safety is not the only reason I am opting out of the commercialized craziness.

Here are a few others:
  •  80% of humanity lives on less than $10 dollars a day - participating in a high-consumption Christmas does them an injustice.
  • because I believe in counter-culture protest, peace activism, as well as human and ecological rights
  • it is one way for me to withdraw my support for a corporate-dominated world - corporations are not kings, and I am not a consumer serf
  • it is a way to re-assert my political power and take a meaningful action now
  • as a way of addressing poverty - traditional Christmas emphasizes caring for those less fortunate during the holiday season, but does little to implement systematic changes that would eliminate the need for charity
  • it brings attention to the national and global imbalance of power and wealth
Having a buy nothing Xmas is a way to take action in fighting an inequitable world beset by a number of serious problems. Many of these challenges were caused, or worsened by, conspicuous consumption.

So maybe as we close in on the holiday season we can engage our friends and family in discussions about free-market consumer capitalism, inequality, human rights, and justice, rather than what we are getting each other for Christmas.

Instead of rushing off to compete for parking spots and bargains - and risking a competitive shopping injury - let us brainstorm solutions for our broken planet.

Love and goodwill will reign when we leave the shopping behind.


  1. Christmas was stressing me out so years ago we stopped doing the gift thing, except for the kids. Now, my younger brother and sister are adults (19 & 21) they still want to give gifts. I may try to wean them next year. Or donate to Kiva on their behalf.

    I've started making things for a handful of close family and friends. Here's the what's up for this year:
    - mixed music CD and a letter with the highlights of 2011
    - homemade soap for people far away (won't be making that again!)
    - homemade coconut sambal for people in town (yum!)

    For the last eight years, instead of making a traditional Christmas meal, I make an ethnic meal from another country. It's so much fun and my family looks forward to it. So far I've done: Tibet, Isreal & Palestine (together), Poland, France, South Korea, China, El Salvador, and South Africa.

    Happy shopping free holidays!

  2. Geneviève,

    What great ways to address Christmas consumerism, and enhance the season at the same time. Thank you for sharing these awesome ideas.

    Happy Solstice


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