Limiting Consumerism


McKenna White, Co-Editor-In-Chief

   As the holidays approach, businesses are promoting their holiday goods. From huge, colorful displays to low low prices, American consumer culture is at an all-time high. Beginning with Black Friday and continuing until Christmas Day, large chain stores are packed with holiday shoppers hoping to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. These stores often stock goods from companies that employ unethical production techniques. Clothes from brands like Nike, Urban Outfitters and Walmart along with goods from technology companies like Apple and Microsoft are often made in destitute countries by children who don’t have benefits, safe working conditions or fair wages. While the reduced prices can be tempting, purchasing goods from these companies supports the unethical and inhumane treatment of laborers. 

    While spending money to make others happy is a good thing, the way people, especially Americans, go about it is not kind to our planet or our mental health. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend an average of $998 on Christmas gifts. Sixty percent of these shoppers plan to buy gifts online. During this global pandemic, online shopping can be more tempting than ever before. Thousands of products can be shipped to your house with the click of a button. However, what so many consumers fail to consider is that with each online purchase, there is packaging and shipping, both of which take a toll on the planet. National Geographic found that 40% of all plastic is used for packaging. These plastics are single-use, meaning they are used once and then thrown out. These discarded plastics fill up our landfills and ocean, killing marine life and polluting the soil. Even the production of these products harms the planet. Many toys, electronics and clothes are made from materials that are unsustainable in factories that emit toxins into the air. As demand for these products increases, as does the mass mining of resources and mass production of chemicals.

    This holiday season, instead of shopping online or at chain stores, focus on small, local businesses. Not only will this cut back on waste, but it also boosts the local economy. Visit local boutiques and shops to find the perfect gift for your loved ones. If you prefer online shopping, Etsy is a site that allows private sellers to display and sell goods. Shopping on Etsy can help cut back on harmful packaging because many sellers use minimal, or biodegradable materials. Before purchasing online, research the company’s policies and core values. You can often find where and how companies produce their products, including whether they use ethical labor practices. Additionally, while it can be tempting to purchase lots of small gifts for your friends and family, oftentimes, quality is more meaningful than quantity. When gift planning, try to come up with one unique gift. Not only will the recipient appreciate the extra thought and special gift, but the Earth will also thank you.