Buy Nothing Day:
November 24th, 2023
Spend a day without spending! The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in 1992 to draw attention to the role played by advertising in overconsumption in the developed world. It has since grown into an international effort involving over 50 countries to underscore the environmental, ethical and social consequences of consumerism. Celebrated in North America on the Friday immediately following US Thanksgiving, Buy Nothing Day marks what has traditionally become known as the first day of the Christmas shopping season. Consider it a 24 hour detox from consumerism and an excellent occasion to tune into the serious effects of ‘what’ and ‘how much’ we buy are having on the environment and on those living in the developing world where much of what we consume is produced.
In anticipation of Buy Nothing Day, teachers and students from around the world can explore the benefits of consuming less, re-using more and challenging companies to put sustainability and quality of life ahead of profit.
WHY CARE ABOUT OUR HABITS AS CONSUMERS?
- 20% of the world’s population lives in the developed world and consumes 80% of the earth's natural resources. In other words we are consuming far more than our share of the earth’s wealth while causing a disproportionate amount of environmental damage.
- According to United Nations, the average North American consumes 30 times more of the earth’s resources than a person living in India?
- Currently four to six hectares of land are required to sustain the consumption demands of the average person from a high-consumption country like Canada.
- Advertisers spend an average of $350 a year on every person in Canada to get us to buy their stuff. Annual worldwide spending on marketing continues to increase and will reach $4.7 trillion by 2025*
- More and more of the goods we consume are produced in developing countries where labor is cheap and fewer safeguards are in place to protect workers and the environment.
- Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base of our planet. 60% of the Earth’s ecosystem services have been degraded in the past 50 years.**
- The raw materials and production methods used to make many of the products we consume have harmful side effects on the health of humans, wildlife and the environment.
- Consumers are constantly forced to buy excessive and unnecessary packaging used by manufacturers, box stores, and supermarkets to increase product appeal.
- Many of the materials used in product packaging cannot be re-used or recycled.
- While recycling is good for the environment, consuming less is even better.
*Martech **Center for Global Development
Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in Buy Nothing Day. Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to further explore issues related to consumerism.
For more information on Buy Nothing Day click here or here.