Shopping Reminders

By | November 29, 2012

I vent. I stop. And then I vent again. It’s the season of shopping that ruffles my feathers the wrong way. So the witch in me has some more food for thought to offer. Old news you’ll say. Perhaps. Yet we’re still about to learn how to be more human than we were a few days ago. Steep learning curves deserve repeated attention. Like I said, the witch is in, read away and do as you please with it.

There is a subject I cannot chew on for too long without feeling appropriately nauseated: necessary evils. We each have our subjectively developed lists and while it is hard to place the many necessary evils in a particular order, the two that top my list are plastic and slavery/forced labor involved in making goods.

I know plastic has its uses in various objects I need or depend on, yet I am far from being at peace with it. Plastic is a classic example of a double-edged sword. With one edge sharper than the other.

Plastic has been around long enough for us to know that it is harmful to people and animals, harmful to the environment and so wickedly pervasive that it gets into places we had no idea existed. Recycle it, dump it, off it goes? Hardly. We are its ultimate destination. You, me, our children and their children to come. Plastic affects our health and it soils the planet. And maybe it’s just me, but the thought of it being around hundreds of years after I’m gone is infuriating. The irony.

As for slavery, it’s true. Many of the products we buy, and we buy a lot more during this time of the year, come with that invisible burden that we may choose to overlook but it ultimately leaves a nasty stain on who we are. Who are the slaves? Men, women and especially children, performing various low-paid or unpaid jobs, some of which are dangerous and plain hard. Think of a worker who has barely left his milk teeth behind. Modern day slaves.

I’ve heard people say “at least they make an income to feed their families.” Double-edged sword again. I am torn yet I maintain that slavery-imbued items carry a shameful imprint. ‘Tis the season to be jolly for some, unjolly for others. That kind of imprint. I choose to steer clear of it. I encourage you to do the same.

Slavery notwithstanding, there are lots of people in our own backyard who cannot think of Christmas as joyful. So it would only make sense to maybe take some of the money that we would pour into gifts that are bought just because, and put it towards making someone’s world a bit better.

Whether buying some hot meals for those hungry and cold, or hitting the thrift stores for mittens and hats and some warmer boots (it’s the lack of basic stuff that makes one’s life miserable), you’ll fill a need. That’s what the Christmas spirit is about.

Think about putting the money you would spend on a gift you’re not sure is needed into one that is: a microloan with companies such as Kiva or GlobalGiving. Your money will reach further than many of your gifts ever could. There are many options worth exploring. Stepping out the (Christmas) boxed gift.

It’s easy to forget accountability in the midst of Christmas shopping. Hurried as we are, it is understandable that we may overlook stopping to smell the rose. Understandable but hardly acceptable anymore, I’d say.

Everything we buy, whether edible or not, will shape the world around us, the environment and the community. By this I mean the immediate community and the global one. The offer reflects our habits. An image we may not feel honored about after all.

Living in a country that offers so much, and that includes unmatchable natural resources, I believe it is our responsibility to say no to things that come with an unfair environmental or denial of basic human rights. May we choose wisely and deck our halls with bows of goodness. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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