Ever since TreeHugger started, we have argued about Buy Nothing Day. It is all about doing something other than shopping:
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.
But is this really a good thing? My first thoughts years ago were "nice idea, if you don't work in a shop." And then my kids were in school; now they both work in shops. They need people buying cheese and coffee. Then there are the good things one can buy; TreeHugger emeritus Warren wrote a dozen years ago:
'Buy Nothing Day' is about rampant consumption of over packaged, blister wrapped rubbish. We should not be one dimensional about this.Which is better for the planet?
A. for one day nobody buys anything (next day they hop in the car and head off to the mall as normal) or
B. Everybody buys a bicycle on that day.
TreeHugger Emeritus Ruben disagreed. But then, he is from Vancouver where Buy Nothing Day was invented.
Buy Nothing Day is a holiday dear to my heart. Proud as I am to be associated with TreeHugger, I know that ecological products can only do so much. If we really want to change the world, we need to find a truly different way of living.
We must consume much, much less.
Ruben also wrote a great post about how he celebrated it. With perogies.
In the depths of the Great Recession, I worried that for many, every day was Buy Nothing Day.
The fact is, in this economy every day is Buy Nothing Day, and among many people its message has taken hold. Anyone out there buying big flatscreen TVs and Blu-rays should stop at the library and have a quick read of the Ant and the Grasshopper on the way, and remember that when push comes to shove, you can't eat a flat screen TV.
In the end, the TreeHugger consensus is that we should all buy less and buy better, support our local makers and vendors, perhaps splurge in experiences instead of stuff. And given all the current uncertainties, perhaps some preserved food might be a good idea.