Buy Nothing Day, Saturday 29th November
What is Buy Nothing Day?
Buy Nothing Day began in Canada in the 1990s as an international protest against consumer culture:
“It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life. The rules are simple, for 24 hours you will detox from shopping and anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!” ~ http://www.buynothingday.co.uk/
(In North America, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on Black Friday as an alternative to the more traditional shopping mania.)
Consumer culture is leading to increasing environmental and social pressures on a global scale. The sourcing and extraction of raw materials, the production process, the transportation, packaging and worldwide distribution of goods, not to mention the dilemma of how we dispose of it all when we’re done… Every link in the chain affects the world around us. The further-removed we are from the crude origins of the products we buy, the less we know about the ethics involved at each step along the way.
Besides, it might be fun to see if you can go without spending for a day!
How can I get involved?
Perhaps the easiest way to get started is simply to avoid buying anything this Saturday and spread the word far and wide. Even just taking a moment to reappraise your shopping habits is a great way to take part.
How will buying nothing on this one day of the year solve anything?
Well that alone might not do very much, but making a stand and raising awareness about the global effects of over-consumption might help to get the ball rolling, The more we think about it, the more we can combat consumer culture and make ethical choices while shopping. Buy Nothing Day could be a step in the right direction.
But what about the bumper fund-raising baking sale I’ve arranged for that day?!
Well, perhaps we’ll let you off and still go. Buy Nothing Day is not anti-trade per se, rather it is an attempt to raise awareness of the implications of excessive consumption and to get us thinking about how (and why) we spend our money.
Nevertheless, you may wish to consider choosing a different day next year. Better yet, why not get your own business involved in a day of raising awareness of these all-important issues?
Hmm, not sure about this…
Maybe you have your own reasons for doubting the efficacy of Buy Nothing Day. Fair enough. Perhaps you worry that the economy will collapse if we go about discouraging people from spending.
In Christian tradition, many people didn’t work or buy things on a Sunday for centuries (millenia even?) and that didn’t appear to cause an economic crisis… but in the modern world we face ever increasing competition within our global market. Maybe we can’t afford to skip a day of business while the rest of the world ploughs on. I don’t claim to be an economist. Perhaps your concerns are valid but how long can we continue to compete in this manner? Is there another way?
Having only heard about Buy Nothing Day recently myself, I can hardly expect local shops and businesses to acknowledge and be ready for it. (In truth, I may even attend a Christmas Fair myself this Saturday. I don’t suppose the organisers were aware of BND and I have no desire to punish them for it…) So what else?
Other ways you can make a difference this Saturday:
Aside from going cold turkey on your shopping…
- Think about your everyday, weekly and monthly purchases. All the things you take for granted. This could be magazines, fizzy drinks and snacks, toiletries and cosmetics, drinks down the pub… Where do they come from? How much value do they bring to your life?
- See the UK Buy Nothing Day website for ideas.
- Check out ethicalconsumer.org
- Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.
- Read the shopping tips I posted back in January.
- Stay tuned for environmentally conscious gift ideas next week!
Perhaps we don’t really need more choice and more shop assistants working longer hours. Perhaps what we really need is more craftsmen and women employed to create made-to-last products, seldom requiring replacement. Instead of selling more, perhaps they should sell better.
Instead of buying cheap, consider buying less.
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