I saw this yesterday while waiting for a bus. Someone has scrawled a $ over Santa’s toy sack, and drawn what seems to be a machine gun in his hand.

This comes at an interesting time – just after Buy Nothing Day (and for those in the States who subscribe, Black Friday). It’s clear that the person who did this adbusting doesn’t look fondly on consumerism, nor, perhaps, on the ad industry. (And I’d have to say I can’t disagree – especially with these Stone Road Mall ads that have popped up on bus shelters and entire sides of city buses. Earlier this fall, I saw one with a string bikini on it that read “only 10 more pounds to go! got a better reason to shop?” I can’t imagine that ad did anything positive for anyone’s self-esteem.)  At first I thought the gun was a bit much, but considering how seldom people think about where their stuff comes from and who gets harmed in the process, it isn’t all that extreme.

Anyway, I read this as a comment on our mindlessly buying into things like holiday shopping (pun intended.)  I could ask whether we need to blow our bank accounts on stuff no one we know really needs, but that is a tired question that we’ve all thought about before. Instead, I’ll leave you with some alternative ideas.

-The Non-Consumer Advocate’s advice on holiday gift giving

-Donating to, or lending a hand at, your favourite groups or charities in the name of your loved ones. A friend of mine recently sent out cards and in mine, I received a note stating that she had donated money to Farm Sanctuary (a favourite of us both) in my name. Righteous. Going local and supporting something like a youth shelter is also a great idea. Along the same lines, if you’re of the herbivorous inclination, asking friends or family to eat vegan for a month is also becoming a popular request.

– support local musicians by getting a group together and attending an event like Stay Out of the Mall VII. These shows act as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, and they’re also collecting non-perishable food items at the door (for a reduced entry fee) to donate to the Guelph Food Bank.

– Actually spend time with people you care about! It’s nice to surprise others with gifts (or in the case of the holidays, give gifts people are expecting to receive), but more valuable to enjoy each other’s company.  Get a friend to teach you how to knit or string your new second-hand guitar.  Plant an indoor herb garden with your little brother for the winter.  Or go outside and build a snow fort, then have snowball fights.  Creative ideas can be more fun than buying stuff for people!

Let us know how you feel about the blog, adbusting, or consumerism (or anything else!) in the comments. We want to know!

– Martina

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