We buy things every day. We spend and we consume. You are a consumer of many products but have you ever considered the impacts you have as a consumer? Do you ever think that the jeans you bought might contribute to slave labour? That the paper you use causes deforestation and increases corporate control? We no longer are in touch with where, how and who is producing the goods we use on a daily basis. Advertising would have us believe we have become happy by having lots of things, and tells us we are always in need of more, but this is only promoting continued dissatisfaction and greed. The influence of advertising on our lives, creating a need to purchase and consume in excess, has effectively blinded us, the consumers.
In response, Buy Nothing Day was initiated in 1992 in Canada by Ted Dave, who was working in the advertising world. He wanted to perform an act against the constant urge to overconsume, which advertising pours on us. His motto was: Enough is Enough! Since then, the idea of Buy Nothing Day has been adopted by more and more countries. Buy Nothing Day has become an international day of cheerful and critical protest against Western overconsumption, the unequal worldwide distribution of well being and wealth and the influence of advertising on our daily lives.
To place some perspective, consider this: If we could shrink the Earth's population to a village of 100 people, with the relative size of human groups remaining the same, there would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 people from the Americas (North and South), and eight Africans. Seventy would be non-white, 30 white. Fifty per cent of the world's wealth would be in the hands of only six people. All six would be citizens of the United States. Seventy people would be unable to read. Fifty would suffer from malnutrition. Eighty would live in substandard housing, and only one would have a college education (Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group).
"So what's the deal?" you may ask. All I have to do is not buy anything for one day? That is easy enough. Yes, that is part of what Buy Nothing Day is about but it is not all. BND is also about opening people's eyes to the problems of over-consumption and how our spending habits are linked to environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and living well beyond the means which the Earth can support.
Through modifying habits and making things instead of buying them, supporting local businesses rather than multinationals and imports, bringing your own mug for coffee, and the list of simple things goes on... we are able to step towards a more sustainable outlook and look at ourselves as stewards in this world.
Try participating in Buy Nothing Day on Nov. 24, and try not participating in spending that contributes to environmental and social degradation. Think about it. Because indeed, enough is enough!