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Christmas With NO Presents?

By Colin Beavan  Posted by JoyRae Freeman (about the submitter)     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 12/26/08

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Conscious Consumerism

inspired by an article i received about a young family in New York, who has intentionally stopped shopping the way most Americans do. Their goal is to leave no "footprint" on the environment. The email I received includes this link to an article in YES magazine.

Christmas with No Presents? by Colin Beavan

One family’s daring experiment: Christmas without all the stuff.

Here's brief background:

From November 2006 to November 2007, I and my little family—one wife, one toddler, one dog—embarked on a lifestyle experiment in which we tried to live with the lowest possible environmental impact (you can read about it on my blog Among other measures, the experiment included not making trash, not using any form of carbon-producing transportation, and not buying anything new.

When I sent this article out to my eList - I received a lot of favorable response and an especially inspiring one from my friend, Brad, who lives in Florida:


My family is doing just that too this year for the first time: NO CHRISTMAS PRESENTS! I have been working on them for about 5 years to get to this point.

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(“My family” = my Mom, Dad, brother, and my wife Lisa). We have no children, and my parents only had my brother and me. A small family but still…: NO Christmas cards, NO gifts of any kind to or from any of us! We DID all go out to dinner together last weekend, but this was NOT some back-door Christmas present to or from anyone.

Furthermore, I have decided that for ME (Lisa will try, but she’s not fully ready for this): NO SHOPPING in 2009!!! Only basic sustainance/maintenance purchases: food, necessary medications, gas and oil (basic maintenance and repair) for the car; basic hygiene products and things to maintain the house in the condition it is presently in (air and water filters, compact fluorescent lights…); sustainable gardening supplies; replacing a pair of shoes (for ex.) that I wear daily that wears out; no music purchases EXCEPT to replace things we need for the band to continue to perform: guitar strings, for example.; tennis balls (that’s my MAIN mode of exercise)… I DO NOT want to collect anything NEW: clothing, toys, … STUFF!!

I was inspired to do this by a show I heard today on our local community radio station (WMNF in Tampa: - FABULOUS station that you can hear on the internet) about a woman and her partner who did this for a year (in NYC and Vermont), and then wrote a book about it, which is out now). This, to me, is the best New Year’s resolution I can imagine. I suppose this would also include stopping eating out, movies, plays, concerts and other out-of-house entertainment that is not free… Magazine subscriptions? Hmmm… Charitable contributions to not-for-profit liberal/sustainable groups are EXEMPT – that’s not shopping!!!

So whaddaya think? (You may very well have has similar ideas. Let’s send this around, kick it around see who wants to give it a try in 2009!!! No better time to start than Jan. 1!!!!!

Love, Brad

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It’s very exciting to embrace this challenge of “no more impulse buying” and more conscious, thoughtful spending, as you say. And I agree totally with your “ humble beginnings” – both my parents (of course) remember the Great Depression, living on a farm, and they, and I, have always lived accordingly. I was raised on a former chicken farm, had my chores to do each week, etc. etc. We didn’t even buy a TV til 1960! I have more than enough clothes to last me til I die, and it’s pretty much true for everything else as well. I will replace guitar strings, etc., of course!

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