Friday, November 23, 2007

Buy Nothing Day!

Did you know that today is Buy Nothing Day? While the rest of the nation (and if your Turkey Day wasn't yesterday, your BND is tomorrow) is off shopping like mad today - making retailers happy, happy, happy! - millions of other folks are sitting it out. I happen to be one of them.

Now I like a nice present just as much as the next person, but I'm not a shopper. Even though I like my gadgets, I am not big on the mall crawling and bargain hunting. Eric is. A bargain hunter, that is. So whenever I need something pricey, I talk to him, he does the internet version of mall crawling and deal finding and then I buy whatever it is online with a discount code. Today, however, we're opting out of the rushing about and purchasing stuff. (Although I don't think groceries count, because we're almost out of cat food and if we don't feed these tiny carnivores we're taking our own lives into our hands!) Later in the month, perhaps, but not today.

Actually, for Xmas this year, we've got to find a way to give better gifts to our family members that take less money. We're thinking about giving one another ephemeral gifts: sleepovers for the kids, movie/date nights for the adults, babysitting, dinners, that sort of thing. I may even consider giving someone a goat, because realistically? my kid has way too many toys as it is (And a grammy that owns a toy shop - presents show up like clockwork. Caitlin is starting to have a Pavlovian response to seeing her grandmother!), my infants don't need anything other than diapers and breastmilk (And regular baths.), Eric is impossible to shop for and all I really want is sleep. Well, maybe a few more Canon lenses, but no one is buying me those!

Grist has a few good ideas about buying "nothing" for your loved ones and one of the ideas struck a chord with me: getting rid of our junk mail!, is an organization that will contact the biggest junk mail distributors for you for 5 years and get them to stop sending you 80-95% of your trash junk mail for $41. They also send a third of that fee to a non-profit of your choice which also sounded good to me. From their site:

Stop Junk Mail — a Personal Nuisance & Environmental Hazard

  • Save trees. More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.
  • Reduce global warming. The energy used to produce and dispose of junk mail exceeds 2.8 million cars.
  • Save water. About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year.
  • Save time. You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

Your Mailbox Today

  • The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in developed countries, and it’s the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter (after the chemical and steel industries).
  • The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year (about 560 pieces). 44% goes to the landfill unopened.
  • On average, we receive 10.8 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters.
  • More than 62 billion pieces (4 million tons) of junk mail are produced each year.
  • The majority of household waste consists of junk mail.
  • 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste.
There's more on the site. Check it out.
I mentioned this to Eric and he told me there was a way to do it all for free! It just involves some amount of effort on your part. So my gift to you this holiday season is to tell you how to get rid of your junk mail both ways.
Or do it yourself by going to:
  •, a site that removes "your names from marketing lists, data brokers and other organizations" electronically. They walk you through what you need to do.
  • which gets you off of the list for those ubiquitous credit card offers.
    Updated to add
    : Eric says ProQuo handles this for you.
  • Don't forget the DMA's Mail Preference Service! This one pisses me off because you have to pay them $1 to get them to stop sending you trash. They, in turn, contact their retailers and get you off the list that they sell to the retailers in the first place. These guys are making money off of you coming and going! Obnoxious? Oh yeaaaah!
    Updated to add: Eric says ProQuo handles this for you.
  • Do you get unwanted "sample" newspapers or circulars tossed on your doorstep regularly? Call the paper's customer service number directly and get them to stop asking you to recycle their paper for them.
There you have it. Or don't. In a few months, you should see a dramatic decrease in crap you have to throw away.

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

Ali said...

I totally did Heifer last year. It's an amazing organization.

I, too, bought nothing today. I get so depressed reading about shoppers lining up at 2 a.m. because they're losing their job/their company's moving to Mexico/the economy's in the tank and and this is the only way they can afford that g-d Wii. Granted I don't have kids (yet) but the whole thing makes me sad.

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