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Columns > John Whitler

Published: 2007/11/18
by John Whitler

An Opportunity to Share

Thanksgiving is a holiday where we give thanks. The origins go back to the Native Americans sharing food and other important aspects of life with the newly arrived settlers. In modern times it is a chance to get together with family and friends, sometimes traveling far distances, take a day or two or three off work, and excuse to eat lots of turkey, real or faux. It amazes me that we still have Thanksgiving on a Thursday, who is really going to work on Friday? The people working are those that work jobs in the retail sector as the Friday after Thanksgiving has turned into the biggest shopping day of the year. So have major retail corporations had secret meetings to make sure Thanksgiving stays on a Thursday? What is it that makes people want to go shopping that Friday?
Since this column is about music and the environment, Ill try to connect the two to Thanksgiving. First, on the music side of things, I often find myself catching up with old friends, and we all try and take control of the stereo to play our new favorite songs from the last year. With the advent of the mp3 player, this no longer requires burning cds or making tapes. We can hook our mobile devices directly to the stereo, eliminating the need for cds. If there is something that we can share with each other, legally of course, there are multitudes of websites that allow you to post files for later download, sendspace and yousendit are two that I familiar with. The other great thing about these websites is that we can share all year long, we dont have to worry about mailing something, which would require a visit to the post office and a few bucks.
The other thought relates to the day after Thanksgiving and how you plan to shop for music this holiday season. A recent acquaintance made an important distinction for me in relation to plastic cd cases. The conversation went something like this:
Q: Do you buy Cds?
A: Sometimes.
Q: Do you keep the plastic cases or do you upload the music and then discard the cd and/or its plastic case into storage?
A: I always upload to iTunes and put the rest in storage, most of the time.
It made me think that there are a handful of cd cases on my bookshelf, representing some of my favorite cds that I want handy in case a mobile mp3 device is not useable. This is especially true for box sets. So what I would recommend this holiday shopping season is to think about the music you are buying for yourself or for a friend. Do you really need to CD case or is it easier to just buy the music online?
Finally, someone I met recently said that they had no idea what global warming was about. They did not watch the news very much and what news that they did see had not mentioned it. I guess I take it for granted sometimes that even though media coverage of environment problems is increasing, there is still a need to educate people about the environmental issues we are facing today. Here are a few items to explore this month.
Are you going to be asked by your parents, wife, partner, or roommate to get rid of some of your old stuff? If so, check out this article from Grist and visit Earth 911. While on these sites, do a little exploring and see if there is a good topic to bring up at Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Are you driving home and want to get better fuel economy and lower emissions? Of course you do, so check out this page from Environmental Defense.
Did you have a good year selling grilled cheese in the parking lot and you are going shopping the day after Thanksgiving? You may have seen NBCs Green Week, and Al Gore rushing off to save a whale in trouble on 30 Rock, or not, but MSNBC has a good article, with some good links. Save the Whales, or just try and make everyday Earth Day.
Are you flying home? Take an empty reusable bottle and fill it with water after the security checkpoint to avoid having to buy bottle water or soda. You may not know it, but bottled water has huge impacts.
Thinking about taking a nice long car road ride to enjoy the fabulous fall colors in a nearby forest? I know in some places fall was not around for very long this year. Consider riding your bike around the neighborhood instead. Or instead of driving around the park, plan a nice hike instead. The US Forest Service offers a great guide to Fall Colors in your area.

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