The first post on The Forum is by someone close to my heart on a subject that should be a lot closer to our hearts. My sister, Lindsey Epifano, wrote a piece on the issue of mass consumption and the things we should focus on rather than shopping–a fitting topic for this time of the year.
Consumer Crunch Time and Going Outside
The more Black Fridays that pass by, the more aggravated I get with consumerism. I was in Target the other day grabbing a couple quick items just to wrap a few small gifts, internally judging the person behind me for buying gobs of plastic toys that I assume were for her small children. But wasn’t I doing the same? I had a couple gift-cards, candy, cards, and gift-bags headed into another plastic bag that most likely would end up in my mom’s reusable box in our pantry.
Even more so, I started to get extremely frustrated the weekend I arrived home for Thanksgiving and loud commercials blared across the screen for what I deemed “crap we don’t need” aka holiday-themed fuzzy socks and other annoying novelties. The worst commercial was that JCPenny opened its doors 2 p.m. Thursday. 2 p.m.? What happened to 8 p.m. Thursday being an insane hour to open?
Then I began to think back to the week before. I spoke to a friend about “opting outside” like REI suggests by closing their stores for the biggest shopping day of the year. Last year alone, 101.7 million people braved the crowds, and we spent over $655 billion in holiday sales (statistics from The Balance). Let that sink in. Think about the amount of materials, plastics, and other chemicals that go into your child’s new toys that they’ll forget about a week after they tear it open on Christmas morning.
I spent my black Friday doing homework, but also taking a small adventure for myself, to be in the moment. As I was outside, I took no photos–something that killed me as a photographer–but also brought me a sense of clarity. I stood a few times and pivoted around observing the sounds of dogs, people, cars in the distance, the smell of the crisp air, and saw the last of the fall leaves vividly against the bare trees and blue sky. It was beautiful. I looked up, loved what I saw and I didn’t need to fight over a TV to see this beautiful day.
So, just like myself, I encourage you to go outside instead of shop. Appreciate all the beauty in this world and bring a friend. Just getting the thought of going out there and partaking in the movement away from consumption can do so much good. Supporting local shops or small start ups is another way to fight against detrimental amounts of consumerism. Shop around your local town or buy a meaningful gift from a crafty friend. Instead of shopping with a friend maybe ask if they would like to go for a walk and shop later, or make it an experience. It requires $0 and you might just feel amazing afterwards.
Words by Lindsey Epifano
Photos by Lindsey Epifano and Savannah Mendoza