Day After Thanksgiving: Why Not Take a Day Off From Consuming?
By Andrea Lani

There's something about this time of year
that seems to send many of us
into a shopping frenzy.  Besides
exhausting our own personal resources
(i.e. our wallets), all that consumption
takes a toll on the earth's
resources, from the materials that go
into making the stuff, to the
energy required to produce it
and the fuels needed to transport items
from the factories to the shopping mall.  

A small but growing movement seeks
to turn this consumer addiction on
its head by declaring the day after
Thanksgiving-traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year --Buy Nothing
Day.  It's a day to take a break from our consumer culture, and its negative
effects on the environment.  

So what's a person to do the day after the big turkey-gorge, if standing
in line outside the big box at 4 a.m. isn't an option?  Try out some of
these ideas for reconnecting with family and friends, and taking time to
enjoy the simple-and free-things in life.

Get in touch with nature.  Bundle up and take the kids to the park or go
for a hike in a nearby nature area (be sure to wear your safety orange).
Collect natural items like rocks, pinecones, acorns and dried leaves for
holiday craft projects.  If we're lucky enough to get a Thanksgiving
snow, look for fresh tracks.  Try to identify the animal that left them
and see if you can figure out where it came from or where it was going.
Unleash your inner child and climb a tree, build a fort or skip rocks in
the river one last time before it freezes up.  

Recycle your stuff.  Why not start a new holiday tradition and organize
a swap with your friends and neighbors.  Have people bring in clothes,
books, sports equipment and toys that they no longer need but are in
good condition.  You can make it formal by giving people a coupon for
each item they bring which they can trade for another item, or let it be
a free-for-all where people select whatever they want or need.  Serve up
some mulled cider and Thanksgiving leftovers to make a party of it.
When everything's been picked over, bag up the rest and donate it to
charity.

Make gifts for wildlife.  Don't forget our feathered and furry friends
this time of year.  If you still have yard work to wrap up before the
snow flies, try piling up sticks and brush trimmed from your bushes and
trees in a corner of the yard to shelter birds and small mammals during
the winter.  Pop some popcorn, string it on cotton thread and wind the
garlands around trees in your yard for a bird snack.  Smear pinecones
with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed.  Tie string to the base of
the cones and hang them around your yard or distribute them to friends
and neighbors so they can enjoy sharing with the birds too.

Thanksgiving weekend is a perfect time to remember to be thankful for
the planet that sustains us and get involved in activities that don't
harm the environment.  It's also a great time to be thankful for that
green stuff in our wallets and give it a day off.

About the author:

This story was written by Andrea Lani, an Environmental Specialist in
the Bureau of Air Quality for In Our Backyard, a weekly column of the
Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  
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