5 Reasons to Shop Less and Give More
Allison Ford | DivineCaroline
December 09, 2010
Reason#3: The Trash Is Choking the Planet
The reason companies are continually coming out with newer, better, faster, and shinier models of items we already own is that they know people will buy the new ones even if they don’t need them. That means hundreds of millions of perfectly usable toys end up in landfills. When we upgrade phones, televisions, and iPods, that trash often ends up being shipped to the developing world, where it’s broken down for parts using methods that are hazardous to the environment and to human life.
Reason #4: Experiences Matter More Than Things
Another study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that experiences are much more difficult to quantify than things and often compare unfavorably to each other. It’s easy to compare gadgets, but who can compare one vacation with another to determine which was more fun or which was the better value? People who spent money on experiences, like going to see a band or taking a trip, were significantly happier with their purchases than those who bought “stuff.” When people buy or give experiences rather than items, the recipient uses a mental strategy called satisficing; he or she accepts the experience as it is and doesn’t dwell on how it could have been better, cheaper, or more exciting. You are more likely to enjoy an experience and less likely to compare it unfavorably with something else.
Reason #5: There Really ARE Starving People in China
It may be easy to brush past the Salvation Army bell ringers or walk the other way when you encounter a panhandler, but don’t forget that many people in the world are barely surviving. To put it into perspective, the National Retail Federation estimates that American shoppers plan to each spend an average of $689 on Christmas gifts this year. This amount is higher than the entire yearly salary of most rural people in India, China, and Africa. According to the World Bank, about one-third of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day. While Americans are fretting about toys and games, children in much of the world lack clean drinking water, schools, medical care, food, and clothing. If donated to Heifer International, the average American’s holiday budget would allow a poor family to buy an entire cow, which they could raise to provide milk, and which would enable them to earn a living. If given to charity, that amount would provide clean drinking water for thirty-four people for twenty years. A sweater or DVD will be enjoyed, but will be quickly forgotten. If even a few people took some of the money they were planning to spend on Christmas presents and donated it to a worthy cause, we could make a big impact on the lives of the poor.
This year, think twice before rushing out to score the best Black Friday deals or buying the latest, greatest tech toy. A well-chosen gift is a great pleasure for both the giver and the receiver, but giant piles of loot, given for giving’s sake, do nothing but diminish the sentiment behind the act. Money can buy fancy gadgets and glittering baubles, but it can’t buy the things that we’re all really seeking: love, connection, and, of course, happiness.
This article was originally published on DivineCaroline.com.