Here it comes. The worst day of the year. Black Friday.
I wasn’t always anti- capitalism, corporations, money, greed, commercialism type. I was to some extent, but it was more because I was compassionate and wanted to help others and I could see that when I was focused on getting more stuff, I wasn’t as focused on giving as I wanted to be. But then I started working at K-mart. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that I had two training days when nobody, I repeat nobody, was even there, so I really didn’t learn much or get that much experience, but then my first official day was…Black Friday. It was horrendous. And I thought I was going to die. I obviously made it, but not without learning a valuable life lesson. People yelled at me all day long. Was it my fault that the stuff wasn’t ringing up the price it was supposed to? I didn’t think so, but I suppose that it was my fault for not going fast enough. I cried that day. I had not a foggy clue what I was doing, but I kept going.
On that Black Friday I saw a darkness of people’s souls that I had never seen and am crushed to see year after year. And not just because they yelled at me, but it just brought out the worst in people. And I don’t even know why. I’m all for saving money, but what do they need so bad that they need to pepper spray people and even kill people? The list of injuries and deaths go on and on and most of the stories say the people just kept going even though people were getting trampled on.
And here’s something rich, when a Wal-Mart employee died from asphyxiation, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) fined them $7,000 for inadequate crowd management. That’s it. SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for WAL-MART and they didn’t even want to pay it. Wal-Mart, a multi-billion dollar company wouldn’t even pay a few measly dollars when its ridiculous sale got someone killed.
Instead, it set up a fund for the victims and paid some money to non-profits and agreed to do better on crowd management. Ridiculous.
And it’s getting worse. Stores are starting their sales on Thanksgiving. The one time of the year that people will think about what they are thankful for instead of what they ‘need’ is being ruined by greed. People are being pulled away from their families for this reason. It has been ruining the Christmas spirit for years. It just isn’t right.
Christmas is about the greatest gift of all, when God sent his son to Earth, so that he could grow up and give his life, so that we could be forgiven for our sins. It’s not about that any more. It’s great that people want to go out and get their friends, families, whoever, the best present, but if I were one the people I keep hearing about were worried so much about then I would say, ‘please, don’t even bother. I will be fine.’ Some people may be shopping for themselves. And that’s even worse.
I don’t even want to think about the damage this holiday ritual does to the Earth with the extra gas used to get in and out of the parking lot to everything that is thrown away that doesn’t need to be.
So let us protest this great movement of selfishness by:
- Hand-making a gift- I’m doing this and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m taking things out of the trash instead of putting them in. I’m putting a lot more effort into these gifts than I would have if I had just went to the store and bought it. I’ll end up buying a few things a few things. The internet is your oyster when it comes to upcycling and you can find practically anything in the trash. If you find a run of the mill craft think of different materials that you can find in the trash or from what you already have.
- Gift a service you can do yourself- car wash, babysitting, yard work or a massage. What better way to show someone you care than to give up some of your time to do something that you hate or don’t like to do for someone else.
- Gift services at locally-owned business- car tune-up, house cleaning, salon visit
- Gift a class together- If you have someone is your life that you need to spend more time with, why not give them a class membership to an art class, exercise class, cooking class or some other type of thing that the person or both of you like to do.
- Gift a membership- local nonprofit, gym, charity group
- Donate in someone’s name- charities, fundraisers, causes
- Gift a meal at a locally-owned restaurant
- Buy gifts from a locally-owned business- If you’re going to buy something, why not spend keep the money local. Out of every $100 spent at local businesses, $45 stays in the local economy. Out of every $100 spent at chain stores, everything but $14 leaves the local economy. They usually say to shop at small businesses on Saturday, but why not just take a look around a small shop and see what kind of deals they’re having?
- Buy used from thrift shops or used music and book stores- I found my favorite book at a used book store and it was pretty much the best day ever. It didn’t have any marks on it or anything and I got for half the price. Paperbackswap.com is a book trading site. As you trade your books you get credits and then you use the credits to get a different book. The person shipping the book has to pay shipping, but otherwise it’s free. The site also has a place to swap CDs and DVDs. Amazon also has a selection of used merchandise, but I would suggest looking at your local thrift stores before resorting to that. You can find some real treasures there.
- Use cash, not credit to avoid contributing to bank profits.
- Boycott stores with striking workers and support picketers- Wal-mart workers are finally starting to get tired working for no respect from their bosses or from consumers. As mindful consumers, we should give them our respect and help if we can.
Let’s make Black Friday the new Green Friday by working together to consume less junk.