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  • Aaryan Doshi

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving Reflections image: adobe firefly

As I embark upon this Thanksgiving holiday, I find myself immersed in profound contemplation and introspection, pondering upon a multitude of matters. During preceding years, phrases such as Cyber Mondays or Black Fridays would have held minimal significance for me. But these days, I find myself wondering. How many boxes are we going to open? How many brand-new, undamaged plastic bags will be thrown in the trash? Where will the contents of our overflowing garbage bins, including recycling bins, ultimately be? Is there a limit to how much more our land fills can absorb, just like our earth has finite resources? Some goods take more than 450 years to entirely decay in our landfills. This information shocked me. Is the existence of Cyber Mondays and Black Fridays truly imperative? But then I also see that these days are crucial to the livelihood of a great number of retailers. Based on research, a significant portion of their annual revenue is generated during the final three months of the year.

The other realization I've had is how little we actually know about the things we purchase. Sure, we're aware of the store we're purchasing goods from, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Target. But where did they make the product? Under what working conditions? What measures were undertaken to ensure the product's environmental compatibility? What additional materials were used to make the product?

We often find ourselves preoccupied with matters such as color, size, fit, and trend, yet we often overlook the concept of reusability. Is it recyclable? Is it repairable? Is it rental-able? Exchangeable? Can it adapt to a variety of climates? Can we extend its useful life and keep it in circulation but repurposed once the product's existing useful life has ended?

Wouldn't it be good to have these facts along with the size, color, and make of the gadget, considering all the technological advancements that have been made? Imagine being able to instantly view not just the product's pricing but also its complete history or lifetime when we scan a barcode? How many different stores, ports or countries did it go through before it finally made its way into our possession? If we were to possess such particulars, would we be inclined to incur additional expenses? Is it appropriate to request that we pay a higher price to protect our environment?

This has made me realize how hard addressing climate change is - because it requires a change in mindset. Instead of the retail mantra of “More for less”, climate change requires us to use “Less for More” - use fewer or less products for more time and investment!

Happy Thanksgiving!

References (updated Nov 2023):

Top 10: What are the longest lasting landfill items? (n.d.). BBC Science Focus.

Richter, F. (2023, November 16). How Important is the Holiday Season for U.S. Retailers? Statista Daily Data.


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