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Nothing makes a daring comeback.

November 22nd, 2007     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

Tomorrow, Friday November 23rd, is Buy Nothing Day in North America.

What that is: Buy Nothing Day is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. In 2007, Buy Nothing Day falls on November 23rd in North America and November 24th internationally. It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine.

Adbusters themselves explained the motivation for Buy Nothing Day concisely in last year’s bulletin: “Recycling, protecting our waterways, driving hybrid cars — all the old environmental imperatives — are great, but it’s becoming obvious that they don’t address the core problem: we have to change our lifestyles, we have to change our culture, and we have to consume smarter and consume less.”

I appreciate the inclusion of the idea that we need to “consume smarter”. Having observed this day for a few years, I know all about the challenges you get from friends, coworkers and family. From “how am I supposed to get to work if I can’t buy tokens?” to “how are we supposed to eat if we can’t buy groceries for dinner?”. Which, hand to the Sky Bully, are the sort of questions I have been asked. Questions which miss the point. The point of Buy Nothing Day is to, for one 24-hour span a year, make conscious an activity which has become at once unconscious and an end in itself.

Buy Nothing Day doesn’t mean you have to fast, or avoid public transit (quite the opposite of the latter I think). It means you take a day to think about your small day-to-day purchases (e.g. trips to Starbucks), your planned big purchases, and where and how you purchase generally. To consider these things, and then consider whether you need these items, what purpose they serve, and if there is a more ethical and sustainable way of getting things done. Maybe that means taking part of tomorrow to research easy recipes so you can work towards buying less fast food. Or ways you can replace disposable items with reuseable ones. Or what stores you shop at, where their goods come from, and the consequences of “a deal”.

There are many “Buy Nothing Day” activities already planned and happening across Canada tomorrow. If you would like to participate in one, you can check them out here.

Tags: activist report, eco speak, event listings

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