Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy crap we don’t need.
buy nothing day
Buy Nothing Day commenced in Canada in the early 90ties to protest consumerism*. The day is currently held in about 65 countries either on Black Friday (end November) or the day after. It offers a 24 hour detox from shopping as opposed to Black Friday which offers ‘the buy-everything-you-can-in-the-shortest-amount-of-time-whether-you-need-it-or-not’.
Surely every single person could buy nothing for a day and once we managed a day, what about an entire month or even the entire year without buying anything new. Could you sign-up to buy no new clothes for a year? If we continue to spend most of the year in lockdown due to a pandemic it would be quite easy although online shopping has increased considerably during COVID-19 times and there is no sign of the trend easing.
buy nothing new for a month
The global movement to buy nothing new was introduced to Australia a decade ago by asking us – you guessed it – to buy nothing new during the entire month of October with the aim to replace thoughtless consumption with a mindset of collective, conscientious consumption.
The annual campaign is brought to life by The New Joneses creating a new template for what a typical Australian family looks like. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, The New Joneses is a play on words referring to the well-known concept of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, a phrase coined by a comic strip created by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand in 1913 dealing with the need to keep up with the material wealth of our peers.
The New Joneses are those people everywhere walking towards the better life of living it up, not keeping up. Doing more with less. Simplifying. Downsizing their debts and upsizing their life experiences.
Quote from The New Joneses.
The reaction to the issue of overconsumption has been a long time coming and increasingly we are being called upon to buy into buying nothing new.
“It’s literally about taking one month off to think, “Do I really need it?” If I do, “can I get it second-hand, borrow it or rent it? What are my alternatives? Can I borrow from a friend? Can I swap with my neighbour? It’s about thinking where our stuff comes from (finite resources) and where it goes when we’re done (often landfill) and what are the alternatives to extend the life of our ‘stuff’.” (quoted from Buy Nothing New website).
buy no NEW clothes for a year
This challenge requires a little more dedication but perhaps if you read the triggers below that cause spending you might even find that you enjoy reclaiming control over what you spend hard-earned money on.
The rewards for shopping less are plenty. Unplugging from consumerism:
- releases us from a feeling of wanting and needing more;
- encourages us to think about why we buy all this stuff in the first place;
- provides an opportunity to change our relationship with spending;
- sends a message to manufacturers that consumers want more sustainability;
- helps us to discover the joy of thrifting;
- saves money and time.
In 2016 Australians spent $20.4 billion a year on fashion for example. https://moneysmart.gov.au/australian-spending-habits
You can of course do this any time of year, check out Extinction Rebellion to find out reasons why you should for example #BoyCottFashion for a year.
“The more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes.”
1843, Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher.
why do we buy in the first place?
We need to understand why we shop if we want to control our buying habits. Advertisers have long found out what makes us tick and triggers shopping behaviour and employ a host of strategies to increase consumption and make us want things we don’t need. We commonly refer to the need of some retail therapy to make us feel good.
Have you ever heard of the Diderot Effect? Have a read – it is interesting, can you relate? https://jamesclear.com/diderot-effect
the problem with consumption
We need to reduce consumption and we need to use our purchasing power to change production. We need to be conscious consumers. Not all consumption is equal. We need to become knowledgeable about the goods we buy. We need to inform ourselves about the production cycle and if we inadvertently participate in the destruction of our own ‘nest’. Shopping shouldn’t cost the earth – in addition to costing money.
is buy nothing day effective?
Whether or not Buy Nothing Day is considered effective depends on how we measure its effectiveness.
The day has grown from a small one city initiative into a grassroots movement rolled out in 65 countries. But is it working or just meaningful to those who already live an ecologically sound lifestyle? This type of groundswell – at a minimum – shows that there are many people who agree with the campaign aims.
Government policies are still promoting increased consumption for economic growth. If we don’t see political will to adopt a different economic model, we won’t see significantly reduced consumption. We need strong policies based on sound research aiming to reduce consumption of e.g. single use plastic. We can’t rely on individuals to make the right choices. We need our elected governments to legislate to ensure the goods available are not destroying the very basis of our livelihoods.
Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against consumerism. In North America, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, Buy Nothing Day is held the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, concurrent to Black Friday; elsewhere, it is held the following day, which is the last Saturday in November. Buy Nothing Day was founded in Vancouver by artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by Adbusters based in Canada. (quoted from wikipedia).
*Buy Nothing Day is a Canadian invention, founded in Vancouver by creator Ted Dave in 1992, subsequently advertised by Adbusters magazine, based in Canada.