Editorial – Way to Shop

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the busiest time of the year. For retailers, it may be the most profitable time of the year. But for me? I just look at the pile of sale flyers heaped up on my kitchen counter and I cringe.

Then I make a trip to the recycle bin.

I hate Christmas shopping. Instead of filling me with peace and love, it fills me with a distinct resentment. I get upset when I see rampant commercialism shoved in my face. I get furious when I hear stories of people getting trampled–trampled!–so someone can get a toy for $15 off. And I hate it when retailers use social awareness as a weapon in their own profit-growing interests.

In this Financial Post article, retail giant Toys R Us lashes out at online shopping–ironically, its big competitor in the battle for Christmas shoppers? wallets. Jerry Storch, TRU’s chief executive, told reporters that the popular practice is ?ungreen? and that people get so caught up in the moment that they don’t give any thought to the carbon footprint they’re creating.

On the other hand, Amazon.com counters that ?The efficiencies of online shopping result in a greener shopping experience than traditional retailing.?

There’s conflicting research supporting both claims, but I think the answer is this: Christmas shopping, at least in its popular manifestation, isn’t green, period. It’s barely even human.

We buy because we’re expected to buy–and buy and buy and buy. But ask almost anyone on your Christmas shopping list, and odds are good they really don’t care about that big expenditure or the extra thing ?just in case? what you bought isn’t good enough. In fact, the more we buy, the more we guilt others into buying for us–and the cycle of greed and insecurity perpetuates.

And once again, we’re being played for dupes by retailers, whether brick-and-mortar stores or online shopping meccas–the same retailers who appeal to our environmental awareness just like they prey on our inner insecurity.

The truly green way? Just buy less. The only way to combat crass commercialism? Just buy less. Way less.

And while we’re saving trees and fuel, we might just end up saving ourselves.