This article appeared in the November 23, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/23 edition

Weighing consumerism’s long throw

Nati Harnik/AP
Black Friday shoppers await the opening of the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., Nov. 23.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Happy #BuyNothingDay, or #OptOutside Day!

Or, yes – as your inbox has relentlessly suggested for weeks – Black Friday.

That retailpalooza would be a boring recurrence by now except that it keeps mutating. China’s version, now called Double 11 for its Nov. 11 date, pulled in $30 billion in sales this year.

In the United States, Instagram “influencers” again marketed lifestyles that demand new goods. Walmart used virtual reality to train greeters to manage crowds. A cottage industry in “line sitting” has shopping-line placeholders making up to $35 an hour.

At a time when debates run to extremes, you might expect hyperconsumers and voluntary simplicity types to be engaged in open war. But there’s lots of crossover behavior in the middle. You can lament the loss of a whale this week off Indonesia to 13 lbs. of ingested plastic and still rely on the material, even if reluctantly, for some near-term needs.

Collectively, though, we may be looking away less and thinking more.

Ask a college kid about plastiglomerate, the rocklike substance that will be a legacy of the Anthropocene age. Share a nice read about a family-run emporium in Pennsylvania that uses hot chocolate, not hot deals, to draw no-tech browsers seeking throwback fashions. And don’t let Black Friday “news” black out news about consequences, like today’s government report about human impact on climate change. Thought shifts? Those seem worth shopping for.

Now to our five stories for your Friday. We look at pushes for needed progress in two states’ voting processes, at another state’s effort to preserve a signature sport, and at a tiny innovation in reading.

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This article appeared in the November 23, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/23 edition