Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saturday November 29th is "Buy Nothing Day".

According to "Buy Nothing Day 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."

Why buy nothing on just one day?

The main reason is to give us time to pause and think about what and how much we buy effects the environment, our own well-being and that of other people, especially in developing countries. However, by not buying on one day of the year we are making a personal statement that life isn't just about making and spending money, that there
is more in life than simply the economy. We're saying we're tired of the endless focus on economic growth at whatever cost: we want change. And we want that change to be kinder to our fellow humans and all other life on the planet.

Buy Nothing Day was started in Canada by Ted Dave in 1992 and is promoted by the Adbusters Media Foundation (Canada)

As I produce the Home Education Association Resource Directory and promote advertising I can't help but think about consumerism and the endless drive for economic growth. As someone who creates products for people to buy I participate directly in the market economy. I want people to buy my books - the money we earn is put directly into our savings account so I can go on holidays! (Actually, for the last year we've been spending it on groceries...)

As a participant in Buy Nothing Day I'm not saying I'm against the whole concept of capitalism or buying and selling. But I am concerned about the 'why' of not only selling, but also creating products and services in the first place.

Often as a homeschooling parent I couldn't get my children to do things that didn't make sense to them. By challenging me constantly to come up with sensible reasons for my requests I began to realise that a lot of what I did or wanted to do wasn't because it made sense, not to me or my future, or even my well-being, but because it was the 'done' thing - others expected it - and few seemed to know why!

Gradually I changed what and why I did things to reflect need. I began to understand what was truly 'needed' and what was desired or 'wanted'. I began to differentiate
between need and want. Up until then I would treat a want with the same urgency as a need. Up until then I would demand that my wants be met as though they were needs. I began to see that the consumeristic lifestyle we enjoy in our society is based on this misunderstanding.

Buy Nothing Day for me celebrates the fact that I, personally, finally know the difference between 'want' and 'need' and feel confident that when I go shopping I can turn away from things I want but don't need. And even when I buy something I want, I know I don't have to, it isn't necessary, the item isn't vital to my survival. And I remember as I buy this unnecessary but wanted item that I live in the lucky country during a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. I give thanks for this as I make my purchase.

© Beverley Paine

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