Big Green Purse is all about ways you can use your consumer clout to protect the environment. One way is to buy sustainable products that do better than their competitors at reducing climate change, cleaning up the air and water, and protecting wildlife. But another is to buy less in the first place. By keeping your money in your purse, you take a stand against unnecessary and excessive consumption and a lifestyle focused on shopping rather than living. In my neighborhood, I’m amazed at the number of stores that have posted signs on their doors saying they’ll be open on Thanksgiving. I expect it from 7-11 –- not from my food coop or the quaint boutiques.
That’s why on the Friday after Thanksgiving – November 23 – I’ll be joining thousands of environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in as many as 65 countries who will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast in celebration of the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global cultural phenomenon that has been gaining momentum as the climate crisis drives average people to seek out greener alternatives to unrestrained consumption.
Says the nonprofit Adbusters, which launched the event, “Timed to coincide with one of the busiest shopping days on the US retail calendar, as well as the unofficial start of the international holiday shopping season, Buy Nothing Day has taken many shapes, from relaxed family outings, to free, non-commercial street parties, to politically charged public protests. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending."
In past years, notes Adbusters, street activists have proven particularly imaginative in their celebrations, bringing zombie marches, credit-card cut-ups, and shopaholic clinics to malls and public squares in an effort to expose the environmental and social consequences of First World over-consumption.
Kalle Lasn, the co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, explains that “while most participants used to see the day simply as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumerism that have come to characterize modern life, the focus has since shifted in light of the new political mood surrounding climate change.
“So much emphasis,” he notes, “has been placed on buying carbon offsets and compact fluorescent lightbulbs and hybrid cars that we are losing sight of the core cause of our environmental problems: we consume far too much.”
“Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your routine for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment. With over six billion people on the planet, it is the responsibility of the most affluent – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources – to set out on a new path.”
So how about it? DON’T use your purse on November 23. And if you’re so inclined, write in and let us know what you didn’t buy.