Buy Nothing Day is tomorrow in the USA and on Saturday in the UK.
Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism.As the website says, it’s not shopping in itself that’s harmful, it’s what we buy. The idea is to help people to think about what and how
much they buy and how their purchases affect the environment, developing countries and their local community.
Many large companies for example use labour in developing countries to
produce goods because its cheap - but these countries don't have the systems to protect
workers that there are in the west.
Any product that contains palm oil (unless it is certified sustainable palm oil) plays a role in destroying rainforests and reducing the habitat available for orang utans and other endangered species. (This is a difficult one to avoid, almost all processed foods seem to contain palm oil as do many brands of toiletries and cosmetics.)
Many people prefer to shop in out of centre shopping malls, but these drain life out of the city centre, which can create unappealing areas in these cities.
There is always the temptation to buy buy buy, even when we don't actually need to. So, many of us rush out to buy the latest style of shoes or mobile phone, even if the one we already had is still in perfect condition. The current economic climate is probably pushing more people into considering alternatives to buying more - in terms of fixing things or wearing clothing until it wears out rather than replacing it as soon as it goes out of style.
But as I said earlier, it's not about shopping being in itself a bad thing. So a few ideas of better ways to buy:
* buying locally made products and reduces the distance your products need to travel, thus reducing the carbon footprint of your purchases;
* buying in local shops helps to support your local economy and to maintain a vibrant community;
* buying products that are made to last reduces waste;
* buying second hand promotes recycling and often supports charities;
* fair trade guarantees a fair wage for the producers;
* organic agriculture reduces the amount of pesticides and other artificial chemicals used in farming.
Also remember, that if you are feeling down, a walk in the countryside is more likely to cheer you up than buying the latest fad! (Though for many people that of course depend on the weather!).
As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.