By Tim Hjersted
Nov 8, 2007
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.
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.”
- From Adbusters Buy Nothing Campaign 2007.