November 25, 2009

Buy Nothing Day... Week... Month

Some people think that we can shop our way out of the ecological corner we have jammed ourselves into. I am not one of them. Therefore, groups that are helping curb consumption get my attention. Adbusters is one such group.

Based out of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Adbusters is a "global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society." Through their website, magazine, and organized activism, Adbusters questions, investigates, and reports on existing power structures and the way we do things on our shopping mad planet.

For a couple of decades they have been promoting Buy Nothing Day, a day when we are asked to question our purchasing decisions by making a conscious effort to spend no money. That is not as easy as it may sound. For 2009 the Buy Nothing Day organizers are proposing the following:
This November 27 (November 28 in Europe and overseas), we’re calling for a Wildcat General Strike. We’re asking tens of millions of people around the world to bring the capitalist consumption machine to a grinding – if only momentary – halt.
We want you to not only stop buying for 24 hours, but to shut off your lights, televisions and other nonessential appliances. We want you to park your car, turn off your phones and log off of your computer for the day.
We’re calling for a Ramadan-like fast. From sunrise to sunset we’ll abstain en masse, not only from holiday shopping, but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.
They are definitely banging that Ramadan drum hard, and like the drum, it is a wake up call. What might a Buy Nothing Day look like? A bit of activism, perhaps, mixed with:
  • sleeping in
  • focusing on local rather than global
  • taking a walk
  • playing board games/cards/dice
  • getting creative with music and art
  • running and playing (ask a kid - they know how to do this)
  • listening to each other
  • channeling your inner Gandhi
  • flying a kite (after making a kite)
  • going on a cycling adventure
  • testing your emergency preparedness plan
  • sitting under a tree/on the beach/in the park
  • snuggling with someone
  • doing nothing (you could make it a Do Nothing Day)
When we try new things doors of possibility are opened. Anything could happen. Buy Nothing Day could begin to transform us from consumers into something completely new. It could transform us into global citizens where, as American philosopher Thomas Paine said, our country is the world and our religion is to do good.

Give not buying anything a try this Friday. You might like it. You might like it a lot. Who knows - you might be moved to try a Buy Nothing Holiday Season this year. We're here if you need support with the withdrawal symptoms.

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