I’ve got a conundrum. It’s Black Friday, the day in the U.S. when the holiday shopping frenzy officially begins. Environmentalists decry this day of conspicuous consumption, advocating Buy Nothing Day instead. And normally, I would be one of them. But this year, I actually have something to sell: my book. In fact, I’ve planned a super cute gift pack with a copy of Plastic-Free, a copy of the Bag It DVD (which is packaged in a paper pulp case), and a cute reusable cotton gift bag from Green Planet Parties.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it), I can’t sell this to you today because demand for the book has been so high, it’s sold out! The publisher ordered a second printing, but it has been delayed. The books were supposed to have arrived in the warehouse several weeks ago, but so far, no books. (Keeping my fingers crossed for this week!)
Now, I have a confession to make: I’ve been unable to sleep for the past week, as I obsess about my missing books. Not that there is anything I can do about the situation. It’s out of my hands. I need to just breath. Meditate. Focus on the present moment. And realize that getting people to buy new stuff — even my own book — is not my mission. I need to think about what really is important to me: connection with people rather than selling to people.
So it’s serendipitous that my local public radio station, KQED, is airing a program today on alternatives to buying gifts for the holidays. They’ll be interviewing my friend Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate, who has been working on buying nothing new for the past 5 years, and they will be calling me for a 5-minute chat on how I’ve reduced my purchases of new stuff as a way to reduce my plastic consumption.
The other guest on the KQED show today is Adam Werbach, former director of the Sierra Club and founder of a brand new web app called Yerdle, which makes it easy to swap, borrow, or share things via Facebook friends. Yerdle officially launched today — Black Friday — to encourage people to share rather than buy new stuff. As soon as I finish listening to this program, I’m going to jump on and list some things that I no longer need.
Don’t Get Trampled
Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project released this short video to highlight the ugly side of Black Friday and to suggest alternatives. It’s great. Please share widely.
Do you think there is such a thing as mindful consumption? I mean, we all have to consume to stay alive. And some new things are worthwhile. (My book, for example!) What’s the balance for you?