November 22, 2007
This has to be the easiest call to action of all time: do nothing.
Well, you still have to wake up, go to work, walk the dog and feed your kids, but you can leave your shopping list at home. Today is the day to take a break from the Christmas madness that's beginning to creep into your life.
Instead, for the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, make a conscious effort to participate by, well, not participating.
Environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast today (in
The day is timed to coincide with the Friday after American Thanksgiving - one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The brainchild of Adbusters magazine, Buy Nothing Day has picked up speed alongside concern for the environment, as average folks seek greener alternatives to unrestrained consumption…
Lasn, the Buy Nothing boss, says the message is bigger than a single day.
"It's about finding out how addicted you are to consumption," he says. "Everyone has their own way of waking up to the fact that 'my lifestyle really stinks' . . . It's about having that epiphany."
Lasn insists there really aren't any rules. What's really important is a mind shift - and not just a personal one, but a cultural one, too.
"It's really not enough anymore to change your light bulbs. You need to change your lifestyle, not your light bulbs," he says, pointing out that the richest one-fifth of the world's population consumes four-fifths of the world's resources.
"The real message is to take it seriously. You are one of the lucky one billion people on the planet. What part can you play, besides changing your light bulb? In that spirit of seriousness, go on a fast. Really go deep that day and come out of it transformed," says Lasn.
"What I'm really hoping is that millions of people participating in Buy Nothing Day will have a spiritual awakening."
"Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your routine for one day. It's about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment."
Buy Nothing Day survival plan
Here are five things to do today instead of buying stuff.
1. Pack a lunch. Put yourself to the test and see what you can come up with. And don't forget coffee. We don't want you heading to the mall for food, and then breaking your Buy Nothing promise.
2. Get outside. Explore somewhere you've never been before.
3. Catch up with friends and family. Stay in and call some people you should've called long ago, or invite a bunch of friends over for a Buy Nothing party.
4. The other three Rs: Read, relax, reflect. Take this day as an opportunity to take stock of your life and consider your consumption, and then make it an annual tradition.
5. If you find yourself in a stitch, thinking: "Oh no, I really need to buy this," take a second to think about what the word 'need' means. Could you get by without it? Re-evaluate what you require. You just might find abstaining from your consumer craving a liberating experience.