Holiday Shopping Outside the Box (Stores)

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in 2012 will amount to $586.1 billion with online shoppers responsible for spending about half of that sum. We don’t have a statistic to translate those credit card transactions into mouse clicks, but suffice it to say ethernet hubs across the nation will be buzzing for the next four weeks.

We’ve discussed the problems with buying stuff before, but this time of year tends to drive consumerism. So as long as it’s shopping season, here are a few recommendations to guide your holiday purchases:

1.     If the people on your list don’t really need a new scarf or book, check out Charity Navigator and donate in their name to a cause they might like. The website works to guide intelligent giving and offers a thorough education of and vetting for many of the big charities in the world.

Stuff: The Solution is not for Sale

During the Stone Age, Homo habilis apparently created and used tools. It could be argued that this was the beginning of man’s affinity for stuff. Tools were, and are, valuable and worth carting around from place to place. Speaking of carting, it’s stuff that was the impetus behind the invention of the wheel in the late Neolithic era. Wheels were used to make pottery — ahem, more stuff — and to build horse-driven chariots to carry stuff.

While tools and wheels are pretty fundamental items, many of the things we purchase today are not as necessary. At Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012, we showed Living Tiny, a film about downsizing living spaces. In it, one character says, “ People like having lots of stuff, Americans in particular. Ultimately, you can only occupy 12 square feet of space at a time. Everything else is just a place to keep your stuff.”