While I didn't completely manage to buy nothing on the day after Thanksgiving--I did spend money going out to dinner with friends--it wasn't hard for me to steer clear of the "Black Friday" shopping binge. After all, there was sleeping in to do, organic turkey (not to mention all that non-organic wine and pie) to work off at the gym, and honestly, I'd rather spend the day getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist than lining up outside a store in the middle of the night only to get trampled by my fellow shoppers.
Getting through the rest of the holiday season without succumbing to overconsumption will be a bit trickier. No slouches in the trash-making department any time of year, Americans create an extra million tons of garbage each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Holiday spirit is a beautiful thing, but when 67 percent of us buy--and wrap--gifts for our pets, it's hard not to conclude that the merchandising mania is a bit out of control. During this season, Americans:
* throw away 38,000 miles of ribbon
* chop down 33 million Christmas trees
* buy 2.65 billion holiday cards
* consume 27 percent more electricity
For tips on minimizing holiday waste (or, as the Center for a New American Dream nicely puts it, having "more joy and less stuff"), check out the Center's online guide to simplifying the holidays.