Thursday, 27 November 2008

Buying nothing - a traitorous deed?

Having previously ruminated on the way life as we know it seems to be tied to our willingness to buy shedloads of tat, I was interested to come across a couple of articles on the BBC news website; Should shopping be our patriotic duty? and The paradox of thrift.

There is an interesting mix of viewpoints in the first article, ranging from a Buy Nothing Day supporter who believes Now Is The Time to start trying to shed the rampant consumerism, to a "shopping guru" who says fun is an essential of life (yes, but is buying things all we can think of to do for fun?), and likens only buying essentials to being under a harsh dictatorial regime (maybe a tad extreme!). While I agree to some extent with the first chap, I think the most sensible approach comes from the retail writer who suggests that we take a moment to think before buying: does this purchase support or negate the type of change I want to see in the world? Surely the most fundamental question of ethical shopping.

The final short word in that article comes from an economist, who points out that whatever the benefits of shifting away from our shopping addiction, doing it overnight will cause as many problems as it solves, a theme taken up by the second article which tries to explain why such desperate measures are currently being put in place to try and get us to keep spending.

I think you probably need a degree in economics to fully understand it all, but I doubt for one minute that Buy Nothing Day will seriously destabilise the global economy. But it might make people think a bit.

(I won't be buying anything, but I will be out of reach of sales assistants and online shopping so maybe that's not much of an achievement!)

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