Consumerism & International Buy Nothing Day

Seeing as I’ve been off work for a few days, I’ve watched a little TV, something I don’t usually do. As we are coming into the Christmas period, there are a lot of people advising the viewers not to spend too much money and get themselves into debt.

I find it quite strange that people are prepared to get themselves into debt over luxuries like Christmas presents and holidays. We really are well trained little rats. We like to think that we are free and that we decide the course our life will take, but that freedom is only within the parameters dictated by a society shaped by marketing.

The fact is that, fundamentally, we exist to earn money so that we can spend it. We spend it on things we don’t need, to live a life that doesn’t particularly make us happy. We have lost our appreciation for the simple things in life, if it’s not shiny and new then it doesn’t deserve our attention. Our relationships suffer, our health suffers and most importantly, the earth suffers because these lifestyles of consumption that we lead are not sustainable.

It’s not sustainable to consume at the rate we do, we do not buy to meet our needs, we buy because we have been trained to consume. Not only is the consumption of natural resources raping the planet, but the waste produced by the production and consumption of these goods is polluting the planet beyond repair. If every person takes responsibility for their consumption, we can make an impact on these problems because they are consumer driven.

Don’t fall for the propaganda, you probably don’t need 50% of the stuff you buy, whether it be foods, goods, entertainment or fuel. Saturday the 24th November is (I)nternational Buy Nothing Day, every one is urged take part by not buying anything on that day. The purpose of IBND is to draw people’s attention to how much they actually consume. A common argument for not participating in IBND is that people will not actually consume less because they will buy everything they want the day before or the day after, but that is not the point. The objective of the day is not to reduce consumption for one day but rather to draw attention to how much we actually consume. Hopefully this awareness will make a difference in people’s consumption habits over the long term. This is also the reason that this day falls just before Christmas when people generally consume more than usual.

The reason for the parenthesis around the I in (I)nternational is that it’s also I Buy Nothing Day. It’s an individual thing, we each need to make the effort. Nobody else is going to check up on us, nobody is going to remind us, nobody is going to force us, it’s an individual action. Below are some links to websites with more information on consumerism.

Go ahead, save the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism
http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Consumption.asp
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0111_040112_consumerism.html

Check out these posts on (I)BND by other local bloggers:

Urban Sprout
Mother City Living
Carbon Copy
Better World Blog
Ethical Co-op

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