Greening the conscience

Today is the day after Black Friday, and I must admit that this year’s Black Friday deals and hoopla seemed to be a lot more than they were last year. Every time I opened my browser to the news, all of the articles popping up had to deal with which stores are giving the best deals. Where can you go to get the most for your money?

Black Friday honestly disgusts me. It’s the most primitive expression of our obsession with consumerism and how we’re being brainwashed into thinking that we need to pay less and less for what we get. The items that are featured in the sales range from TVs to gaming consoles to computers to cookware to clothes to shoes to tools and more. What we don’t realize is that our demand for lowest prices creates a vicious cycle for those who make those products.

Most of our electronics come from parts of Asia like Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea. Because technology is constantly updating itself, our current electronics are outdated within a year or two so we discard them and get new ones on days like Black Friday where we could get the best deal for them. Have you ever heard of something called E-waste? E-waste is electronic waste that is discarded in developing countries where they are taken apart to salvage metal from them.

60 minutes did a feature on e-waste talking about how in China this is a huge pollutant and cause of certain human health concerns. “Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste”. This e-waste comes from developed countries, like the U.S. and the EU.

So, how can we help stop this e-waste problem in developing countries? Our companies in the U.S. get away with exporting this waste to other countries under the pretense that these computers and electronics are “second-hand goods” for re-sale. Most of them are just junk computers and TVs.

The American consumer needs to think twice before buying new technology just because the deals are cheap. We need to choose wisely when buying new computers and such and make sure that it’s something that we actually need and not just want. We want to help save the environment by demanding less “new” stuff every year. But, if we HAVE to buy something new, we should think of how best to dispose of our waste and to make sure that it is going to the right place. Instead of just leaving the electronics on the street corner, we should pay attention to centers that do the recycling in-country. A simple Google search will help us find nearby locations.

Most of all, Americans need to remember that the holidays are more about family and togetherness rather than buying, buying, buying. When outside cultures look at our culture, they see a bunch of spoiled American consumers who are always buying something or shopping and who have so much stuff. Let’s change that for the sake of our dignity as Americans and for the sake of our environment.

Join us in Buying Nothing. Buy Nothing Day – Adbusters.org.

About the Author

Jr. SUNY Oswego Journalism major Global Studies Minor Environmental activist, cultural advocate, uninhibited dancer, singer, writer, traveler.
Email: kraymond@oswego.edu
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