Don't Buy Anything New This Holiday Season

Columnist says shopping secondhand is better for the world, and more fun
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2021 11:05 AM CST
Don't Buy Anything New This Holiday Season
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Eugene_EM)

We may be barely a week past Halloween, but the holiday shopping season is already upon us—and in the New York Times, Annaliese Griffin suggests you don't purchase any new presents this year. The reasons for buying secondhand gifts are numerous: the global supply-chain delays are causing shortages of new products; the frenzied consumerism around the idea that we must spend, spend, spend in order to have a magical holiday is problematic; and all that stuff we buy eventually ends up getting disposed of. Then there's the fact that searching for pre-loved treasures is fun, and often allows more opportunities for finding (and, sometimes, personalizing or fixing up) a very specific gift rather than the usual trendy, generic items you might think of buying.

"Every new purchase puts into motion a global chain of events, usually beginning with extracting oil to make the plastic that is in everything from stretchy jeans to the packaging they come in," Griffin writes. "Those materials travel from processing plant to factory to container ship, to eventually land on my front porch, and then become mine for a time. Sooner or later, they will most likely end up in a landfill. There’s so little pleasure in those kinds of purchases." Read her full piece here, which includes how to implement her ideas, or read on for other recent think-pieces on holiday shopping:

  • Here's hoping the supply-chain issues spark a real change in American buying habits, writes Terry Nguyen at Vox. "Consumers have the option to not order items manufactured overseas, to source things locally from small businesses or artisans. We also have a choice that eliminates the potential for shipping or supply chain mishaps: We can just buy less."
  • Amanda Mull makes a similar point at the Atlantic in a piece bluntly titled, "Stop Shopping." "Shopping has been marketed as a civic responsibility in America for more than a century," she writes. "According to Tim Kasser, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Knox College who has spent decades studying materialism, the word citizen has slowly come to be replaced by the word consumer in newspapers and books."
  • Angie Wipf, a UK mom of eight, tells the Sun she doesn't buy her kids Christmas gifts—each child gets just one gift, from a sibling—and her kids are happier because of it. They got overwhelmed and stressed with so many presents before, she says, and now they truly enjoy what they do get. With the money the family saves on gifts, they take trips and go on outings.
(More holiday shopping stories.)

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