This article was co-written with Greg Gerritt.
On November 27th -- the busiest day in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season -- thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada. This is a day where we challenge ourselves to switch off from shopping and tune into life.
Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which was responsible for turning Buy Nothing Day into an international annual event, said, "Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don't address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day."
One may ask: "instead of buying nothing on November 27th, shouldn't we be spending more so as to save our economy?" Attempts to shore up our present economy are futile. Our globalized consumer-orientated economic system is crumbling and the signs for global catastrophes are already here, as our planet's natural resources are plundered, Can we face it? Can we really face the reality that this is so?
So what can we do? It will take vision and experimentation to develop new economies based on localization, where much of what we buy is produced locally, and of course, we have to consume much less. On November 27th, join people from sixty five countries by buying nothing and sending a clear message that over-consumption is one of the main causes for our planetary crisis.
Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing our habits for one day, but about starting a lasting lifelong commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.
Here in Providence, we observe Buy Nothing Day for the thirteenth year in a row by holding a life-affirming winter coat exchange on the State House lawn, directly across from Providence Place Mall from 10AM-2PM. In case of inclement weather, the exchange will take place at St. Patrick's School, 244 Smith St. Those who have winter coats to give can just drop them off; those needing a winter coat can pick one up. Coat exchanges also take place in Pawtucket, Newport, Wakefield, and Woonsocket. Volunteers are needed at all the sites.