Holiday Shopping: Harmless Fun or Overconsumption?


photo by Anelina Alegre

Inviting online deals tempt eager shoppers.

by Anelina Alegre, Staff Writer

The winter holidays are finally here, which means that shops are once again bustling with patrons eager to browse for holiday gifts. Though holiday shopping sprees may seem like harmless fun, overconsumption during the holidays is becoming an increasingly easy fault that we should all take care to avoid.

A major change from last year’s holiday season is that the streets are no longer closed. Stores are open to shop in person, and people can now travel to visit extended family & friends. With gifts being more accessible and in demand, people are susceptible to buying more than they did last year. 

Another factor that contributes to the rising products bought is the yearly Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Americans take these deals very seriously, some even taking the effort to wake up at 4am or stake store lines just to get the very first deals. With tempting discounts combined into a single day, it’s easy to drop great sums of money at once on the latest technology or clothing without even thinking. Everyone is thinking “If I don’t buy now, I’ll miss out on the sale.” Companies additionally took the opportunity to boost their online shopping experience during quarantine, making it effortless for people to buy with just the click of a button. These intentional commercial tactics make people more likely to buy from their brands.

Though holiday shopping has turned into an anticipated American tradition, the consequences are detrimental to the environment; both the constant purchasing and never ending production of these goods tremendously add on to our carbon footprint. Though it’s admittedly difficult on a consumer level to control the resource consumption from the companies we commission, that doesn’t mean our purchases don’t have consequences. A popular trend circulating social media is the influential “Shein Haul.” Shein is an online fast fashion brand popular among Gen Z for their appealingly cheap prices and effortless shopping experience. However, the $300 haul craze is unnecessary and harmful with the fast fashion industry being not at all sustainable. BBC News has exposed Shein for violating local labor laws, and many Shein fad clothes end up in landfills after the style cycles out of trend. While it is understandable for people who can’t afford more pricey clothes, there is no excuse for the influencers who drop hundreds of dollars on mass produced clothing.

I am not proposing that spenders be strictly frugal this year; the 2021 holidays should be a time of celebration now more than ever. I only urge people to be mindful of their shopping practices, and use the holidays as an opportunity to support local or small businesses for your seasonal gifts. While browsing Amazon is efficient for mindless one-touch shopping, it is important to give back to your community and support family-owned businesses around you.