National buy nothing day, because doing nothing is doing something.
Saturday 27 November was National buy nothing Day. A chance to switch off from shopping and tune into life, according to the organisers,
So how to tune into life? There are suggestions:
“Re-live those childhood tantrum moments - except this time you’re all grown up and should know better. Sit on the floor in any shop with a friend and throw a tantrum. Shout things like ‘I don’t want anything anymore!’ or ‘You’ve got more shopping than me!’ Anything really - just act like a BIG kid”.
Ironically the first thing you are invited to do on their website is to buy posters, but be careful ‘fly-posting can get you in trouble’.
There is a need in our modern fast paced society for a space for reflection and contemplation. My problem, is that following reflection, I want more stuff. I must be hopelessly addicted to consumer culture. A day of doing nothing, as a political act, is more than reflection though.
Tony Juniper writing in the Guardian said “If we change our approach toward economics, work on the culture of consumerism and change our expectations as to what constitutes a good life, we might still avoid an ecological "crash" later this century”.
So the problem is with us. We want too much stuff and that will cause a ‘crash’. According to James Heartfield, “green thinking makes more, not less consumption. It could be stated as an economic law: the richer you are, the greener you are, the richer you are the more you consume”.
Environmental activism correlates with higher income. Those parts of the world that are greener in outlook are also those that are wealthier. Districts that elect green representatives tend to be wealthier, like Brighton, Reading, North Devon and Oxford in Britain; California, Maine and Pennsylvania in the US. Green consumerism does not mean consuming less than the rest of us, in fact it ends up meaning you consume more.
As a green consumer your choices are more finicky, less easily satisfied. They say something about you. They say you are ‘concerned about the planet’. They say you are more discerning. Most of all they say that you are wealthier than the people down the street. Green consumers see themselves as morally above the herd. Green’s don’t have a problem with consumption per se, they have a problem with one type of consumption: mass consumption.
National buy nothing Day is apt because it’s against mass consumption. That is, you and me having more. At a time of public sector redundancies, cuts and economic stagnation we should be thinking about getting ourselves out of these problems so we can all have more. Lying on the floor of a supermarket and having a childhood tantrum will not get us out of the current crisis it will just make you look like a prick. A green ethical consuming prick.