29.11.2008 is a Buy Nothing Day


People are scared of the crisis so they stopped shopping. Logically. If you are not sure if you’ll still have a job next month, you just don’t go out and buy a new DVD player. But now, the economists are screaming at people to go out and shop in order to help their economies survive the crisis. Well, how about this – the economies are in crisis because they are based on an outdated system which just doesn’t work anymore. The whole society is based on earning the money to sped it on stuff nobody needs. How about we started changing this? How about the governments increased their spending instead of asking people to do that? How about we start spending on stuff that will benefit everybody? On schools, hospitals, better infrastructure, green energy solutions, R&D? Yes, I know –  I am touching into some socialist ideas again….

  I wanted to puke when I heard that “Please, shop!” plead on TV.


1. There is only so much we can consume. Already now, every western household have 2 TV sets, 2 cars and closets full of “Made in China” stuff.

2. Earth is in peril: How much do the production, the shipping and disposal of stuff we actually don’t need pollute our planet?

3. We are forgetting the real things in life: This greed for material things turns our attention away from important things in life. It turns us into robots. We work too much just to spend the hard earned money on stuff we don’t need. Shopping became a way of filling time, of psycho therapy and what is even worse, even a way of socializing.

'If people started to make the connection between spending and how much they had to work, and realised that if they spent less, they'd worry less, then we'd have a significant reduction in mental illness in this country.' Said psychiatrist and author Oliver James

4. Our kids are turning into robots: What about the new generation? When I was a kid, each Mars bar and each Hello Kitty pencil was a little celebration. I had to use imagination to build a house for my Barbie (once I even had 2 Barbies at a time. Today, girls have 20+). For today’s kids, nothing is special – everything exists, everything is pre-created, everything is in abundance. They know that all you actually need to have it all is – money.


So what am I doing?

I cut my excessive consumption one year ago, as I quit my job. And I was surprised how much I was able to cut -  and how painless it actually was. I learned how less we really need and that the whole consumption thing is actually a vicious circle – the more you buy, the more you need. If I bought a copy of Vogue, I immediately found a sweater I “really needed”. When buying the sweater, I found a dress I couldn’t resist. For the dress, I needed a new pair of boots. And then I bought the newest mascara which needed a special eye make up removal. Buying this, I found a lip gloss I really liked. And once I bought all of that, I received a catalogue with more stuff I didn’t even know I needed. And then I had to show all that clothes and make up – so that they have a raison d’être. Which meant going into bars and restaurants and clubs. And more consumption… of food, drinks, drugs, taxies.

It was just incredible how, once you exit this circle, all those artificial needs start disappearing, one by one. The simple trick is not to give the temptation a chance – stop window shopping, stop buying magazines, and stop meeting your friends for shopping. Meet them for a coffee or a visit to a museum. Unfortunately, I have to admit that, like with a real addiction, once you stop the regular dose of new stuff, you do go through a crisis. Yes, sometimes you feel the hole where unpacked shopping bags used to be.

I just ordered a book “I’m not buying it” by a writer who stopped shopping for a year – I am curious to hear other people experiences. And I joined the Buy Nothing Day.

Anybody else?