Buy Nothing Day

In the midst of the frenzy of Christmas shopping is “Buy Nothing Day”. On the 26th of November, a seemingly anonymous source (although it seems to be in cahoots with anti-capitalist magazine Adbusters), urges us to “Lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and dump the love of your life – shopping”.  The aim is to turn away from shopping and “tune into life”, spending 24 hours detoxing from buying anything.

Whilst many companies are striving to create ethical and recycled products, Buy Nothing Day goes one step further by asking people to not purchase anything. The idea is to highlight the ethical implications of first world consumerism right when it is at its worst. I can definitely see the advantages, I myself am trying to cut down on unnecessary purchasing because of the ethical and environmental issues that arise, but it seems all too “faddy”. Sure, it’s great if people take a day away from shopping, but instead of having one day of buying nothing to rationalise previous excessive spending, surely it would be better to buy what you do have to buy from ethical and sustainable sources in the long term?

Not everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Richard Dodd from the British Retail Consortium is quoted in saying, “That [Buy Nothing Day is] just a nonsense run by the anti-globalisation people. If nobody bought anything, economies around the world would collapse, because buying things drives the economy, it creates and supports jobs”. He seems to be missing the point. We need to create economies based on sustainable and ethical products. In my view, Buy Nothing Day is raising awareness of this; it’s not saying that people need to stop shopping altogether. We need take action over our disposable lifestyles that have a huge impact on third world countries and the environment; a fact we all seem to know, yet few seem to really be doing anything about.

A phrase that seems to be thrown around a lot, backlash against the idea that recycling will save the world, is “if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve a little”. Whilst the ideas behind Buy Nothing Day are in the right place, it’s just not enough. Raising awareness of the implications enforced by unsustainable shopping is a start, but how about “Buy Local Month” or challenge people to buy all handmade or recycled Christmas presents?

We need to shift into a more minimalist way of living. Our high levels of consumption are bad for not only the environment but ourselves; people incur thousands of pounds of debt buying things they ultimately do not need. The thrill of shopping is a temporary high, leaving us with bulging wardrobes and empty pockets.

So next Saturday, take a moment to think about where everything you buy is coming from, and going to. It’s easy to bury our heads in the sand; after all, we are very good at it. How about this Christmas we move away from any unnecessary excess, and move towards a more sustainable way of living, for everyone’s sake.

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