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Why do you buy?

Once upon a time, we used to buy what we needed, period.

Now that we have all we need, we buy for other reasons: to impress each other, to fill a void, to kill time. Buy Nothing Day is a simple idea: try not to shop for a day, and see how your view of our world changes.

Where does all this stuff come from?

Where will it go?

Why do we buy it?

Aren't there better ways of spending our time?

What is Buy Nothing Day (BND)?

Buy Nothing Day (BND) is a holiday, a street party to celebrate sustainable lifestyles, a break from the shop-till-you drop culture. It is what we make it. You can just take a day off or organize something.

What’s the point?

To stop and think about what and how much we buy effects the environment, our own well-being and people in developing countries. By participating in the global BND, you make a statement for a new kind of lifestyle, culture and politics:

A personal life that is not just about making and spending money
A public culture that is diverse and open for many ideas and concerns, not dominated by pro-shopping messages
Politics based on global peace and fairness, and true cost economics (not neo-classical GDP economics)
Does it make a difference if I don’t shop for a day?

It does. Try it and you’ll see.

Isn't it bad for the economy?

In many economically successful countries, there is a weekly ‘sell-nothing-day,’ for example Sunday. Experience shows that when shops are ‘allowed’ to open on Sunday, the overall sales don’t rise, but small and medium retailers lose to large businesses. So BND is not bad for the economy, it just does not give an advantage to big businesses.

Many people like to use BND to call for year-round boycotts of certain businesses (especially transnational corporations) with unfair labor practices, a bad environmental or animal rights record, a history of war profiteering and political meddling, etc. Others voice their support for good business practices and policies that recognize the social benefit of eco-businesses and fair trade.

What are some alternatives to buying?

First figure out if you can do without it. If the answer is yes, try re-using, recycling/remodeling, making your own, sharing existing (vehicles, computers, garden tools, etc.), bartering, using local money, give-aways, and even garbage-diving.

What is so bad about consuming?

It's not buying goods and services itself that's so harmful, it's what we buy and how much. People in the money-rich countries (only 20% of the world population) are consuming over 86% of the earth's natural resources, and cause most of the environmental damage.

The raw materials and production methods that are used to make so many of our goods have harmful side affects such as toxic waste, destruction of wild life, and wasted energy. The transport of goods internationally also contributes to pollution (often unnecessarily, since many goods could be produced locally or regionally). Our demand for certain conveniences can also cause war and instability in other countries. We all know about America’s “wars for oil’ in which the Japanese government supports. But there are less know stories: e.g. Tantal, a raw metal needed for cell phones, game boys and laptops, is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A UN report named the tantal trade as one of the causes for “one of the biggest human rights tragedies since WW1”, a war that has been going on since 1997.

How did BND start?

BND was invented by the Canadian artist Ted Dave and his friends in 1992. Adbusters, an international magazine started spreading and promoting it, and now it is celebrated in at least 62 countries (2003).

Who organizes BND?

Events are organized by anyone who wants to. Therefore- every place, every event is different. It's up to you. So far, in Japan, there are small business owners, students, designers, teachers, 'regular working people,' dads and mom's, citizens's groups (environmental groups, peace groups, labor groups) are organizing events and activities.

How many people participate?

Around the world, Adbusters estimates that in 2003, about a million people participated by not shopping, and could confirm that thousands participated in events in at least 60 countries. In Japan, we expect about 10.000 to participate this year, In other Asian countries, so far there are confirmed reports of organizing groups in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Korea. In Germany, BND has the support of one of Germany’s big newspapers, the tageszeitung.

Why these dates (Friday after Thanksgiving in North America, the following Saturday in Europe and Asia)?

In many countries, this weekend is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In North America, where BND started, the Friday after Thanksgiving is famous for its wild shopping frenzy. The media always report on the sales numbers and consumer behavior on this day (the crazier the rush the more enthusiastic the reporters). In Europe and Asia we celebrate it the following Saturday, because sales are higher on that day.

Can't I make another day buy nothing day?

Of course. Any day is fine for a personal consumption fast (some people and cultures like to keep a weekly buy nothing day). But it is more fun and has more impact if you do it together with ten thousands of people around the globe.

But we can’t make every day buy nothing day, can we?

Actually, there are people who chose a life where they hardly need to buy things. These people are known under names like simple lifers or down-shifters or compacters. This may not be your choice of lifestyle, but they show us that we can develop alternatives, and how to value things that cannot be bought and sold.

Participating organizations include:
Friends of the Earth, Food Not Bombs, Critical Mass, Workshop for Sustainable Development (Omslag, Holland) , The Commons (France)Mascots, The Big Pig, Zenta Claus (concept made in Japan), Consumer Sheep, Consumer Monster

Popular events/activities:

Credit card cut-ups, street theatre, shops selling nothing, meditating in Santa Claus costumes, no-logo parades, bicycle demonstrations, teach-ins, postering and leaf-letting, conga-lines, free food parties, barter markets, free concerts, shopping-free zones (sofas and carpets in city shopping area), broadcasting BND un-commercials on radio and TV, simply not shopping and instead enjoying the day with friends and family.

Eric Snyder

Views: 78

Tags: BND, Buy, Consumerism, Day, Environment, Nothing


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