Thursday, November 15, 2007

Buy Nothing Day - 11/23

The holidays are upon us once again. The stress of gift-giving, the lines, the zombie-like shoppers on Black Friday . . . icky. But why buy anything at all? Do any of us really need anything? Or do we just want? It's hard to shake off the superficial quality of our holidays. Some would say that gift-giving has been a tradition for centuries on many holidays in cultures all over the world. But, the American consumerist culture that is causing such severe environmental destruction all over the world can not be ignored. So I say, take a stand on November 23rd (Black Friday) and buy nothing!! Just for one day, damn it!! Below is the press release from Adbusters:

Disclaimer: I understand that most of us do like to receive gifts. That small child in us can't wait to see what is hidden in the brightly colored package. And, let's be realistic, most of our families expect actual gifts - not the I-am-giving-you-the-gift-of-a-better-world-by-not-actually-giving-you- anything gift. Furthermore, family gatherings at holidays are often stressful for most folks - especially for many of us in the DC area, who live far away from our families and visit only on those days - without trying to push our "hippy" rhetoric down Uncle Stan's throat. Consequently, some gifts will have to be bought. But, there are ways to reduce your impact while giving good gifts. I will have a blog shortly about holiday giving. Stay tuned.


(November 23 in the USA and Canada, November 24 internationally)

STOP SHOPPING TO GO GREEN: This November, environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in as many as 65 countries will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast in celebration of the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global cultural phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, MSNBC, Wired, the BBC, USA Today, The Age and the CBC, the international event has been gaining mainstream momentum as the climate crisis drives average people to seek out greener alternatives to unrestrained consumption.

Timed to coincide with one of the busiest shopping days on the US retail calendar, as well as the unofficial start of the international holiday-shopping season, Buy Nothing Day has taken many shapes, from relaxed family outings, to free, non-commercial street parties, to politically charged public protests. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

In past years, street activists have proven particularly imaginative in their celebrations, bringing zombie marches, credit-card cut-ups, and shopaholic clinics to malls and public squares in an effort to expose the environmental and social consequences of First World over-consumption.

Kalle Lasn is the co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, the organization responsible for launching Buy Nothing Day as a yearly, global event. He explains that while most participants used to see the day simply as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumerism that have come to characterize modern life, the focus has since shifted in light of the new political mood surrounding climate change.

"So much emphasis," he notes, "has been placed on buying carbon offsets and compact fluorescent lightbulbs and hybrid cars that we are losing sight of the core cause of our environmental problems: we consume far too much."

"Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your routine for one day. It's about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment. With over six billion people on the planet, it is the responsibility of the most affluent - the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world's resources - to set out on a new path."


Unknown said...

Had wondered what had become of you.

Glad to see that you're putting up thoughts and being provocative, although I sense an uneasy tension so far in your blog. On the one hand --- reduce consumption; on the other hand --- teasers for more consumption. Yes, the teasers are for the eco-minded, sustainability concerned purchaser, but they still seem to be in the consume/capitalist mindset (jewelry, fashion, design).

We can and probably have had long debates over whether the capitalist model can save itself or whether it will simply co-opt the environmental bandwagon ensuring a slow and greasy slide to the bottom.

So this is all simply to probe a little, and maybe to challenge ourselves beyond Buy Nothing Day -- to a Buy Nothing Christmas or maybe put a big red ban across Ebay and Craigslist sites on our computer (so the stuff may be used but has it all helped us buy more)?

In the end thanks for your goodness in putting this up and keep on keeping on!

Righteous (re)Style said...

I think that "uneasy tension" is an accurate description of what most people like me are going through. We are constantly bombarded by media pushing new products, new trends, new styles . . . I think it is unrealistic to expect people to go "cold turkey" with their consumption. In addition, we are, unfortunately, a consumption oriented society - many jobs and livelihoods depend on American consumption - not to mention the economy. And, I just don't equate design and fashion with the capitalist mindset. I look at it as a reflection of creativity and expression. Of course, it's all skewed now - cheap design, cheap manufacturing . . . What I want to do is promote a more measured approach to consumption. Buying handmade and locally-made products. Actually knowing the person who sewed your clothing. As consumers, we are just so disconnected from the supply chain - but, if there was more awareness and information, I think people would make different choices.

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