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Black Friday, a Black Day for the Planet

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Black FridayBetween Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, US households generate 25% more waste than any other time of the year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that is close to 1 million extra tons of trash each year.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is Black Friday. It’s used by American retailers to generate a frenzy of shopping — to encourage consumers to start their Christmas shopping early. Created to combat this mindless buying is Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international protest against consumerism founded by artist Ted Dave in Vancouver in 1992.

Buy Nothing Day was created to challenge the entrenched values of capitalism: that the economy must always keep growing, that consumer wants must always be satisfied, and that immediate gratification is imperative.

It’s no secret that Black Friday brings out the worst in people. Stampedes, fist fights, and generally obnoxious behavior always accompany this day, and people even accept it as a risk to get the cheapest toy, TV, phone, DVD player, etc.

Economist Tim Jackson summarizes the craziness of our consumer society in this way. “We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to create impressions that don’t last on people we don’t care about.”

Economists argue that shopping is good for our economy and that it grows the GDP. We need to start looking at our economy differentl, in a way economists call “prosperity without growth.”

Black Friday is really a black day for the planet. It perpetuates more product cycles and more mining-making-buying-using-throwing away. More sales, more trash. How much trash? A recent Conference Board of Canada study said that Canadians generate 777 kilograms of municipal waste a year, more than any other country, and just like the US, a big part of that happens around the American Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas.

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