Tag Archives: consumerism

4th Annual Community Coat Exchange

The Community Coat Exchange was a success! We gave close to 90% of what was donated. Here are videos and links to photos of the event:

News Coverage by KSL TV – Fourth annual Community Coat Exchange helps Utahns stay warm
November 27th

SALT LAKE CITY — As the weather gets colder, a lot of people are in need of warm winter coats. The fourth annual Community Coat Exchange helps provide coats to those in need.

People dropped off extra coats at the Salt Lake City Library Plaza Friday. Those who needed a coat could get one, no questions asked.

Exchange organizers say there has been a decline in donations this year.

“This is indicative of a larger need this year for families during this time. Maybe people aren’t giving away things and maybe people are more in need,” says Deanna Taylor with the Community Coat Exchange.

Leftover coats will be given to the Crossroads Urban Center Thrift Store at 1385 W. 840 S. in Salt Lake City.

Those who didn’t make it Friday can still drop extra coats off at the center.

Local Action: Making Dreams Come True – You Can Do It

Today is Green Blog Action Day, a project of Green Change which was inspired by the global day of blog action on climate change. The topic: Local action. Check out all the Green Blogging going on over at Green Change to see what people around the country are writing about local action. My local action topic for today is a story about how I grew into taking action on a local level that is making a difference in my community.

As a young child I decided that because there was so much greenery on the earth my favorite color would be green. I grew up appreciating the beauty of our planet due to the inspiration I had from family that influenced my love for life. That inspiration led to personal practices that have helped me to work towards reducing my footprint on the world. One of those practices is that of consuming only what is necessary. This continues to be a practice which I constantly examine and refine in my life. I buy clothing at thrift stores and make my own jewelry and handbags, for example. I grow a lot of my own food. I compost. I recycle. I take public transportation and walk as much as possible. It is no wonder, then, that the Green Party, a party that promotes values near and dear to my heart, would eventually become "home" to me.

Local Action=Personal Responsibility

As a younger woman growing up in Frederick County, Maryland, about 50 miles west of Baltimore, each Thanksgiving I would watch with intrigue as the local news would air the piece about the huge Thanksgiving Feast organized by this amazing woman – Bea Gaddy, the
"Mother Teresa of Baltimore", a woman who grew up in poverty and rose above her life’s challenges to become a successful advocate for human beings on our planet.

Each year I would continue to be inspired by the stories published about Bea Gaddy and her efforts. I would think to myself "I want to be like her when I grow up." She demonstrated a level of community action that touched my heart and warmed the souls of tens of thousands of people through the years. Then one day my wish began to come true.

Local Action=Following Bea Gaddy’s Mission

I became involved with the Green Party when I moved to Utah in the late 90’s because of everything the Green Party advocates with regards to life on earth. I became active at the national level and met many great people. One person I met from Rhode Island, Greg Gerritt, told me
about the Rhode Island Green Party organized "Winter Coat Exchange" held each year on Buy Nothing Day, the day after Thanksgiving….the heaviest shopping day of the year. This year is the 12th year for the Rhode Island event where thousands of coats are now collected and
given away. All types of community organizations have become involved. The idea: "If you need a coat, come get one. If you have a coat, we know someone who can use it." As I learned more about this event, I knew that I had to organize a sister event in Utah.

Local Action=Community Action

I had participated in Buy Nothing Day actions before. At malls and shopping places I would join dozens of activists in "anti-carol" sings, with messages about the pitfalls of consumerism, including its impact on our planet. But something just wasn’t working.
Shoppers would hurry past us as we sang and any leaflets we handed out ended up on the ground. I was frustrated. There had to be something else that could be done on this day to have more of an impact. Something that would touch the hearts of people as they spent their money on material goods that day. The concept of a coat exchange was something I decided to pursue.

Local Action=Pulling people together for a common good.

The first Community Coat Exchange was held in Salt Lake City, Utah The day after Thanksgiving in 2006, with about 300 coats collected, and 100 given away. TV cameras showed up and people responded positively to the idea. The next year we collected about 400 coats and gave away 200. Last year we collected over 700 coats and gave away 600. We now have 5 collection sites. People from all walks of life participate. The event is growing. Next year we hope to have a sister event in Ogden, a city north of Salt Lake City. We have more community partners. We get some media attention, but there still seems to be more "news" at the malls where people are shopping. No matter. As we grow, we touch lives and warm hearts in our local community.

As I reflect on this growing event, this local action, I have come to realize, on a small scale and relevant to my world, that my wish has come true, thanks to everyone in my life who has influenced me – my amazing and wonderful husband, my parents, my grandmothers, my
siblings, my children and grandchildren, my wonderful friends, my Green Party colleagues from around the country, and others in the world who have inspired and influenced me.

I am growing up to be like Bea Gaddy.

My desire now is to continue to grow and serve our community in ways that all people will benefit from efforts such as the Community Coat Exchange: A local action that has made a difference to the lives of countless people….to the life of the disabled man who just
needed to talk to someone (and get a coat)….to the families of refugees who were in need of coats for the cold Utah weather….to the war vet who was struggling to get the care he needed to survive….to the women who were being sheltered in a domestic violence victim shelter and needed winter wear for their children….to the homeless men who came to stock up on winter wear for the weather in which they were forced to live….to the school children who collected coats at their schools for the event….and for the many people who realized that shopping on Black Friday was not as important as giving back to the community and taking pause to consider how to better protect and prolong the life of our planet.

Local Action=Making dreams come true. You can do it!

Buy Nothing Day in Utah

From KUTV Channel 2 UtahI am quoted near the bottom
Utahns Participate In Buy Nothing Day

While millions of Americans where rushing from store to store hunting for rock bottom deals of Black Friday, a significantly smaller portion of the population was refusing to spend a single penny on that day. 

Sarah and Derek Staffanson have decided to join the legions of people across the country taking part in “Buy Nothing Day.”  A grass roots effort to stamp out consumerism and unnecessary debt.

The Staffanson’s decided to spent this “Black Friday” decorating their tree.   Derek says for most of his life heading to the malls the day after Thanksgiving was part of his family holiday ritual.

He says during a long evolution he and his wife have decided that blatant consumerism often left him empty inside he says he still wants to buy certain things but says community service is more fulfilling.

Also celebrating “Buy Nothing Day” is Deanna Taylor.  She spent the afternoon at Library Square collecting old coat and handing them out to people who need them.

Staffanson and his wife say they enjoy living a simpler life. 

Black Friday: Is it REALLY worth it?

Here is what makes Black Friday totally not worth it (aside from the obvious reasons):

Wal-Mart death blamed on "utter chaos"

NEW YORK (AP) – Police say a Wal-Mart employee was knocked to the ground and later pronounced dead after opening the store to anxious shoppers on Long Island, New York.

Black Friday turns tragic for Wal-Mart
One worker dies in opening chaos at a New York store. Around the nation, crowds seek deep discounts at the world’s largest retailer.

Two dead after shots fired in toy store

PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) – Two people are dead in a Black Friday shooting at a crowded Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, Calif.City Councilman Jim Ferguson says police have told him that the victims were two men with handguns who shot each other.

Buy Nothing Day

Remember to Buy Nothing on Friday, November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, do something for your community, your family, your world.


Plastic Bags – lets BAN them

Once in the slideshow, use the scroll bar on the right side of the screen to scroll through.

Everyone on earth should see this. It’s that important.

And please pass it on

Holiday Reading

This list was forwarded to me by a fellow Green who had received it from a colleague of hers.  He said he would add to this listThe Seventh Decade, The New Shape of Nuclear Danger which reveals the most inconvenient truth about the present status of nuclear weapons on planet earth.  This tragedy grows, like global warming, with the machinations of the present Bush administration.  The time to ban nuclear weapons is long overdue.

Ralph Nader’s Holiday Reading Recommendations

by Ralph Nader

‘Tis the Holiday Season and a time congenial for reading books. Here are my recommendations of recent books that relate to the quest for understanding today’s events:

1. Jeno: The Power of the Peddler, (Paulucci International) is the biography of 89-year-old multiple entrepreneur, Jeno Paulucci, of Duluth, Minnesota and Sanford, Florida. One of a kind, this human dynamo, starting from the raw poverty of the Iron Range, built company after company and sold them when they became successful. Along the way, he championed labor unions for his large companies, workers rights, sued even bigger companies, heralded the need to use the courts, defended prisoners unlawfully imprisoned and launched many other counter-intuitive initiatives. He just started another company before his 90th birthday. If you want to absorb human energy, read this book!

2. The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi by Les Leopold, (Chelsea Green) is the story of whom I consider to be the greatest labor leader of our generation. It was Mazzocchi who connected the labor movement with environmental group and scientists specializing in occupational diseases, with a broad humane agenda for working people so that they had a decent living standard and plenty of time for other pursuits. This World War II combat veteran probably traveled more miles, spoke with more blue collar workers and championed “just health care” more than any other American before his passing from cancer in 2002.

3. Corpocracy by Robert A.G. Monks (Wiley Publishers) summarizes its main theme on the book’s cover-”How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World’s Greatest Wealth Machine-and How to Get it Back.” Corporate lawyer, venture capitalist and bold shareholder activist, Monks gives us his inside knowledge about how corporations seized control from any adequate government regulations and especially from their owners, their shareholders, and institutional shareholders like mutual funds and pension trusts. This is a very readable journey through the pits and peaks of corporate greed and power that shows the light at the end of the tunnel.

4. Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots, by Kevin Danaher, Shannon Biggs and Jason Mark (PoliPoint Press.) This is a practical book about on-the-ground, successful green businesses and neighborhood initiatives that live sustainability, not just talk it. There are also pages of crisp interviews with practitioners and thinkers including Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City and Lois Gibbs, the extraordinary organizer against toxics regarding this emerging sub-economy that challenges greed, concentrated power and destruction.

5. You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression (paperback, The New Press) by Matthew Rothschild. This book by the editor of The Progressive magazine aggregates accurate stories of the post-9/11 violations of the civil liberties and and civil right of the American people, including veterans, by the dictacrats in Washington, DC. Ordinary people exercising their rights of free speech and assembly found harassment, arrest, expulsion from public meetings, surveillance and malicious prosecution to be their rewards. Rothschild end on a hopeful note, describing the resistance by freedom advocates and the various individual and community ways that people are fighting back to defend their Bill of Rights.

6. The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning, by Peter Gabel (Acada Books.) Law Professor, Law Dean and college President, Peter Gabel gets down to fundamentals about the “politics of meaning.” This is not a muckraking expose but rather a relentless push on readers to examine their isolation and alienation from one another, their neighborhood, workplace, and community without which a functioning democracy cannot evolve.

7. The Four Freedoms Under Siege, by Marcus Raskin and Robert Spero (Praeger/Publishers.) Raskin and Spero take off from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s proclamation of the Four Freedoms in his annual message to Congress, January 6, 1941 and apply them to present day America. These four freedoms are the freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. It is not a pretty picture. It can be changed, and this book contains wise words for such liberations.

8. Medicare; Facts, Myths, Problems & Promise (in Canada!), edited by Bruce Campbell and Greg Marchildon (James Lorimer & Company Ltd.) At last an authoritative answer by authorities on health care in Canada and the U.S. to the distortions, prevarications, smears and putdowns of the Canadian health care system by the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh and other servers of their corporate paymasters. In 39 concise chapters, 39 specialists cover the achievements of Canada’s way of guaranteeing everyone health care, how it happened, the pressure by the corporatist lobbies and their thoughtless think tanks to undermine Medicare piece by piece, and the future development of Medicare toward prevention and sustainability. A tour de force for anybody fed up with the “pay or die,” wasteful, profiteering corporate morass that blocks comparable progress in the United States.

9. Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of The New Global Economy by John Bowe (Random House.) This book is an eye witness gripper of the conditions of the workers who harvest our fruits and vegetables and make our garments from Florida to Oklahoma to Saipan. Laws are weak, unenforced, and raw power takes over these defenseless workers’ lives. You’ll soon ask: where are the police, the prosecutors, the politicians? The real question is: “Where are the people to make the required changes on behalf of humanity?”

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is The Seventeen Traditions.

Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange

Last year the Desert Greens held it first Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange. It was fun and proved to be very meaningful.

This year we held it in a different location.
The 2007 Second Annual Winter Coat Exchange was successful and larger than 2006!
We had about 400 coats donated (up from 100 last year), as well as hats, gloves, and scarves! I was so successful this year that we are considering expanding to two locations for next year.

2007 Event Videos and Photos
Scott Fife Provides Live Entertainment

Continue reading

Students at Utah High School prevented from hanging Buy Nothing Day Banner

A local high school principal prevented a class of students from hanging a banner for Buy Nothing Day.  Below is a commentary on this by Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly.  It appears that this principal values capitalism over the environment and conservation.

Paul Rolly: Red scare at Viewmont High School

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} The advanced placement environmental class at Viewmont High School in Bountiful seems to be succeeding at making some of the school’s best and brightest aware of the need for conservation.
    Just so long as they don’t become Commies.
    RyLee Stowell says she and her fellow A.P. students, as a class project, created banners promoting “Buy Nothing Day,” an environmental alternative to “Black Friday,” which falls on the day after Thanksgiving and is touted by merchants as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
    “Buy Nothing Day” encourages conservation rather than consumerism on that day.
    But Stowell says when the students wanted to hang the banner on a balcony overlooking the commons area – where dances, programs and other student activities are advertised – they were told that the anti-consumer message would offend sponsors that promote their goods and services throughout the school.
    Principal Scott Tennis, however, says the students were never censored. They were allowed to put their message on bulletin boards throughout the school and displayed their banner in the lunchroom.
    But he was concerned that the students were unclear about what the message was trying to convey – if it was anti-capitalism, pro-socialism, or what?

And So It Begins….

….the shopping season.


Tomorrow will be the 2nd annual Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange at Library Plaza in downtown Salt Lake. Black Friday is what the day after Thanksgiving is called. I am putting out the call to all readers and their families and friends to consider doing something different on this day. Something more community oriented and not so consumer-oriented. Check out the Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange Page.

Be sure to check out my Gift Giving Page, which I will be updating throughout this season.