Buy Nothing Day 2007
Friday, November 23, 20071 Comment
watching the concert and browzing the stuff swap table
This Friday the UC courtyard was filled with people celebrating Buy Nothing Day. Conceived by Vancouver artist Ted Dave in 1992 it was promoted by the magazine Adbusters as a repose to the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It is now an international event that tries to combat consumerism by having participants abstain from purchasing anything for a day.
A CSA noon hour concert with the Sunparlour Players, a three piece indie folk band, pumped energy into a full crowd. After their performance people browsed multiple tables full of free things including; a stuff swap, 'zine table, a hair cut, food, and coffee.
There were lots of skill sharing activities both planned and spontaneous. One could learn how to make a reusable pad, be taught how to knit or crochet, how to juggle, or share and listen in a story exchange circle.
Awareness raising was another big aspect of the day as different causes; from water sustainability to anti-Taser petitions, tried to get there respective messages across. Kyra Haworth, a Food Bank volunteer working at the 'zine table, says zines provide informations about endless topics, offering them to people for free makes them more accessible. Buy Nothing Day also gives the Food Bank an opportunity to show case the many services they provide on a daily basis. "We want people to know that the resources are out there and available on campus" Kyra says.
Supporters of Buy Nothing Day say it is intended to create a cultural change towards reducing consumption and living in a more sustainable, less wasteful way. Critiques say we all contribute to this economy even if were not 'buying' something. Work and production are tied into the equation as well. Therefore, some find Buy Nothing Day is ineffective because it only targets the consumption aspect of this system. Others observe that one needs class privilege to be able to participate in not consuming. For example, those without a fridge and cupboard stocked full of food might find it hard not to buy a meal for a whole day. Still others think that because Buy Nothing Day is marketed towards one day only people are 'saving' spending till the next day which doesn't cut down on consumption; it just displaces it.
Gillian, the Sustainability Co-ordinator on campus was running a how to knit table on friday; "Buy Nothing Day is a thought exercise. It makes people aware of where they spend their money. It's not about not consuming anything," She says, pointing to her table covered in yarn and needles "it's more about a focus away from buying for happiness. It makes you stop and think, why do we need these things in the first place?" She went on to add that; "We've set up a consumptive Western model of society as the end all be all, but it's really damaging to the resources we're trying to live off of."
Overall feeling of the day seemed to be consume less, reuse more, and while everyone is together trade skills, objects, and ideas. Although it may not create a cultural shift participants and those just passing through the Buy Nothing Day courtyard, seemed to be having a fun time.