It is a general rule that a blog with “minimalism” in its tagline will spend some of Thanksgiving Week talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the horrors of consumerism, and the acquisitive awfulness that is dragging us all down.
Some of these bloggers will go on to discuss what we have done to the planet in our pursuit of inexpensive goods. They will tell you not to spend money on Black Friday. To boycott it. To stand, sword in hand, screaming the oath to anti-consumerism you have made. You will make your last stand while the armies of marketing professionals come over the hillsides to crush you with their psychological profiling and microtargeted emails.
Let’s be realistic: Many people take advantage of Black Friday sales because goods they need are affordable on that weekend.
First, be grateful for what you have. It’s a Delphic Maxim — #106, Εὐγνώμων γίνου.
Go to your household storage areas. Examine the shoes you own, the sweaters you have, the A-frame shirts and the underwear and the socks. Scrutinize the jewelry. Then, on to the kitchen. How much can you really fit in the cupboards? How many of your appliances do you actually use?
Most people do not need new things.
If you do, make a list. Now, let’s talk about other people. Think about everything from the small host gifts during the holiday season to the larger items you will gift to friends and family. Consider, too, the celebratory offerings for the Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, and other polytheistic holidays. If you buy anything from Etsy, the shipping will not be instantaneous. Interrogate this list. Make it reasonable. Because I am a minimalist, I will advise you to consider things that people can actually use — refillable pens with extra ink sticks, nicely-patterned dish towels, steel tiffin containers to bring to work, nice tea and tisane, the expensive towels that nobody ever buys for themselves, wool scarves, copper-and-steel reusable straws, pottery, art prints. If your family members are polytheists, you might gift things related to Gods they worship.
Steel yourself, online or in person, for the things placed near the checkout lines intended as “stocking stuffers.” If you can envision something on a Goodwill knick-knacks shelf, it is probably wasteful spending.
Some of these things will come from online stores, others from brick-and-mortar ones. Earmark anything that you are willing to buy from a third-party seller, maybe one in the polytheist community. Do not buy those things on sale. Be a gift to others and invest in our artisans.
Going in, remember: it takes 20 to 200 years for polyester, spandex, and nylon to break down, no matter how pilled the spandex gets after using your workout pants for a year. Visit Close the Loop. Read up.
Going in, remember this:
and the climate report just released by the UN, discussed by news sites everywhere. Here’s what Science says at the link just in case you don’t click:
“The summary findings are bleak,” the UNEP report said. “Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global [greenhouse gas] emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.”
In the report, UNEP applauds heightened public pressure on governments to address climate change, yet laments that it’s not nearly enough. The world’s emissions have been increasing by about 1.5% per year for the past decade, it notes. That would lead to temperature increases of nearly 4°C by 2100, “bringing wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts.”
You probably have a favorite brand, one that you fell in love with when making offerings to a God years ago. (I know I do.) If you make offerings frequently, you are probably low. Sign up for the mailing list in your dump email account. Remember, all in moderation.
At this point, you should have a document that you could title Consumerism War Room.
Look carefully at it. How much of it can you realistically afford this pay cycle? Since you don’t know what the sales will be yet, go for a dollar amount, not the specific items.
Govern your expenses. Δαπανῶν ἄρχου, Maxim #72.
Stick to this list. Remember that there will be a fatiguing number of sales between now and the end of the holiday season. Remember that you don’t need to use the Marie Kondo technique on things you don’t buy in the first place.
Or you could boycott the consumerist free-for-all entirely, remembering what the philosophers have said about material goods and happiness — you don’t need much. From a practical POV, Project 333 is around to provide a framework for a small wardrobe that you will love, you can find minimalist kitchen item lists, and the best thing to do the day after Thanksgiving is to breathe.