While it comes as no surprise, consumerism in the U.S. - and globally for that matter - has gotten out of control. Christmas, Chanukah and other winter holidays have lost their meaning over the rush for material goods. The Black Friday death of one Wal-Mart employee and the injuries of others is quite the vivid example of how misconstrued the season of the holiday has become. (If you want to hear more of my ranting, read my article in The Mirror.)
Regardless of the upsetting nature of this event, Americans will not just stop shopping. I would argue that even the most committed, stringent environmentalists get into the holiday season by presenting friends and family with homemade gifts.
If knitting, canning or jewelry-making is not feasible in these weeks leading up to holiday traditions, don't freak out! Supporting local crafters is a great way to stay committed to activist efforts and find some really cool, original gifts in the process.
Get behind the handmade effort by pledging to buy and support crafters. There, you will find other like-minded individuals, many of who are crafters who provide links to their favorite online crafting sites or personal businesses.
One of my favorites is Etsy.com, a network of really talented individuals and new-age crafters. The site allows you to search for gifts by topic, location and price, allowing you to find something for almost anyone.
Rather than just stickin' it to the major superstores and feeling the pressure to consume this season, learn to enjoy the holiday gift-giving process, get creative and support local crafters in the process.