Sunday, November 30, 2008


Despite the economic slowdown, layoffs, mortgage foreclosures and a generally depressed economy, the American consumer is still the most powerful economic force on the planet. With selected use of its holiday spending, the consumer can forever alter the American and world economy. Solace should be taken in the fact that billions of dollars are still being spent to get you to buy, buy and buy this holiday season. How you spend your money and what you spend your money on can forever alter what and how products are produced.

With great sadness I heard the story of the death at a Wal-Mart store where hoards of consumers trampled a person to death just to get a shot at holiday bargains. Those that did this represent all that has been wrong with our economy and the consumer. With the promise of ‘big savings,’ throngs of frenzied shoppers did just what large corporations want the consumer to do; spend their money mindlessly! If we are to come out this emerging depression and if we are to save the planet from increasing risks of environmental collapse, the consumer must use its spending power to alter the way business does business.

Image this as headline news on December 26th. “While holiday retail spending was the worst in recent memory, the American consumer sent a clear message to businesses; they want change and will use their hard earned dollars to get it. Americans abandoned their traditional habit of buying anything that carried a ‘sale tag’ and sought out products that were natural, eco-friendly, lasting and American made. While almost all retail sectors were down, there were sharp rises in natural health and beauty products, small scale solar products, items made with glass and steel instead of plastic, crafted toys, natural fiber clothing and durable goods that have a sound history of actually being durable. Store owners, dismayed with all of the products still left on the shelves said that next year, they will abide by consumer wishes and stock those items that that meet changing consumer preferences.”

This type of story does not have to be a fairytale. It can happen and it can happen now. As a consumer, you can buy non-plastic item. Stainless steel water bottles, glass baby bottles, and toys made from safe materials can be found. Yes, these may cost a little more but once this type of spending habit is developed, costs will come down. If need be, look on the internet and shop on-line for natural products and stop trampling people to death. If internet sales of such companies sky rocket, businesses will get the hint. Find clothing that is made of natural fibers. If it costs a lot, buy fewer items. At least you know that the gift will not give people skin disease from petro-chemicals in the fibers. There are all types of natural health and beauty aids. Buying these products will tell companies to stop putting carcinogens in make-up. There are hundreds of solar and other alternative energy products that you can buy on the internet. From outdoor solar lights, wind-up radios and flash lights, to solar powered chargers for laptops, cell phones and IPods, spending on these items will let industry know that you are serious about alternative energy products. It is said that form follows thought. Know also that products follow dollars. Instead of cheep particle board furniture, but those made of solid wood. If it costs too much, get one piece at a time rather than buying a whole set. At least what you get will last and will not contain chemicals used to make pressboard.

And you know, you can always buy books! Instead of just the big names from the big chain stores, visit the smaller independent bookstores and buy some unknown authors. Buy books from small presses instead of the Big Six publishers that have controlled 90% of what they offer you to read. Save some trees and buy a Kindle reader from Amazon and download books in seconds. Find books that not just entertain but that also inspire others to help create a new way of life and a new way of doing business. Check out authors like Jack canfield, Juna Jinsei, Susan Shumsky, Marvin Wilson, Linda Walker, Joyce Moore, Brian Doe and yours truly, Philip F. Harris.

The point of all of this is that you, the consumer, stand at a crossroad. You can continue to spend money on poorly designed sometimes dangerous and useless non-lasting items. These items will all end up in the overflowing landfills in weeks and will add to climate degradation. Alternatively, you can choose the path that creates a more sustainable world and buy products that have meaning and durability. You can choose to trample or you can choose to alter out economic system. Tell businesses what you want and do it with your dollars. You have the power. Don’t continue to put that power in the hands of others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen to THAT proposed headline, brother Phil. I have long held that id enough people would spend their money "consciously" and "on purpose" with an awareness and sense of enlightenment our economy would at first suffer, it would deflate back into reality (where it has been far away from since the 80's) and stay put as a viable means of buying and selling all things that matter, not baubles for our distractions at the expense of people whose lives we trample to death in order to have them.