Buy Nothing Day 2008 Has a Hollow Ring

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Stephen Roach writes in the New York Times:

The good news is that lines should be short for today's "first shopping day" of the holiday season. The bad news is more daunting: rising unemployment, weakening incomes, falling home values, a declining stock market, record household debt and a horrific credit crunch. But there is a deeper, potentially positive, meaning to all this: Consumers are now abandoning the asset-dependent spending and saving strategies they embraced during the bubbles of the past dozen years and moving back to more prudent income-based lifestyles.

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.

Perhaps in these times there is a better message that we should be sending instead of Buy Nothing. Over the years we have come up with some alternative suggestions:

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Warren: '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.

So my take is we expand the message: Buy Nothing Day(ngerous to the planet)

- buy something from a thift store - unwrapped, preloved
- buy a subscription to CSA organic produce box
- buy membership to a car share network
- buy local
- buy organic, recycled, non toxic, reused, durable, functional
- buy carbon credits for the family's travel for the past or upcoming year
- buy solar panels

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Erin: Black Friday is also an important day for our eco-gift maker friends. The holidays is the time when they get to show their stuff and make the money they need to get through another year of competing in this crazy Walmarket.

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Kyeann: There's definitely room for shock value, but there are lots of people with whom that technique won't fly. It's also important to understand what consumption means to individuals if we want to communicate about in ways that will be meaningful to them. The idea that media messages are transmitted to the masses in an uncomplicated, uniform way is outdated. People have very individual relationships with the media they consume and the products they buy. It's hard to reach consumers when constantly identifying against them and judging them as duped, piggy drones. When doing so, holding on to one's own precious, anti-capitalist/mainstream media and environmental identity becomes more important than finding ways to effectively spread the word. And it's not supposed to be all about us and our green or anti-capitalist selves, right? More at What Happens After Buy Nothing Day?

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Ruben: 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.

So what is my plan to reduce consumption? It's simple, have more perogie parties. I went to my first perogie party three years ago, and I can't stop talking about it. More at Buy Nothing Day doesn't mean living less.

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