Climate, Overshoot & Alternatives to the Mall

As an alternative to being part of the herd at the mall this Black Friday, some celebrated Buy Nothing Day.

As I explored in my previous post, our insatiable demand for natural resources now exceeds our planet’s ability to meet it. September 25th symbolically marked Earth Overshoot Day, the day humanity began living beyond its ecological budget for the year. A simple economics lesson would show us that when a natural limit is overshot, there is an eventual collapse. How long a throw-away culture can survive beyond its means is a matter for debate, but ultimately it is unsustainable.

Alternatives to the Mall

I’m a big fan of doing more with less, so I compiled this list of  three of my favorite 501(c)3 charitable organizations to make holiday gift donations to. Your friends and family will appreciate your thoughtfulness and they won’t have to find space in their homes for more stuff that they don’t want or need. You might even start a trend.

  • The World Wildlife Federation is leading the way in climate change education and advocating for greenhouse gas reduction. The WWF offers gifts that support conservation and unique ways to make a donation including Species Adoptions. I chose the WWF’s Species Adoption last year, because along with the donation, you can elect to receive an adoption kit which includes a stuffed animal and an adoption certificate.
  • is the world’s first micro-lending website. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. For as little as $25, you can make a loan to an entrepreneur in an under-developed country. When the individual repays the loan, you can take your money, or lend it out again. Last Christmas, as a gift for me, my parents put money into my kiva account and my mother picked out the people she wanted to lend to. She had great fun doing this. Kiva also has gift certificates available on their website.
  • Amnesty International’s mission is to ensure human rights for all people. At AI’s online store you’ll find fairly traded, ethical and sweatshop-free products that make perfect gifts for friends and family.

Of course, you can actually spend no money this holiday. Explore your creativity by making your own gifts. My six-year old is great at this and making gifts is a fun way for us to spend time together.

This year, I am sending online greetings instead of holiday cards to most of my friends and family. This cuts down on time and saves resources. Some people might feel its less personal, but you can use this as an Overshoot education opportunity.

Spend the extra time you have from not shopping with your family. You might discover a whole new enjoyment of the season. I know I have. Happy Holidays!



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