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    Buy Nothing Day
    - Stuart Sontier - 28/11/97

    Buy Nothing? What do they mean?
    That question resounded around the main streets of Wellington and Auckland on Friday 28 Nov, when groups in those and other locations in New Zealand celebrated International Buy Nothing Day this year.

    "Buy 'nothing' for one whole day, see how good it feels" was one slogan from these anti-consumerists, and with a sense for fun, they had 'nothing' for sale (at the knock down price of nothing).

    "We use a contentious sounding name, have fun, and address the serious issues of resource limits, economic globalisation, and global equity" stated Murray Sheard, part of the group in Auckland.

    Impact of consumerism
    "It's an oft quoted statistic that 20% of the world's population, mainly the wealthy countries like our own, consume 80% of the resources." said Manu Caddie, in Wellington. "We already see environmental degredation. What will it be like if and when countries like Indonesia and China raise their standard of living to the point where they demand their fair share? But do we have the right to deny them that share?"

    Christmas Gift Exemption Certificates
    Christmas was another target. The date for Buy Nothing Day was planned for the 28th to coincide with the start of Christmas retailing. Consequently, a Christmas Gift Exemption Certificate was available, with handy tips on reducing the gift bill, while enjoying more time with family.

    "Many people find the marketing of Christmas offensive. They see through the hype and the expensive plastic kids toys thrown in the corner by Boxing Day," explained Stuart Sontier (Auckland) while giving out Certificates, "But the guilt and fear of not providing expensive presents makes us keep doing it. Here we are offering a few cheaper alternatives." And indeed, on the reverse of the certificate are tips like "set an upper limit on gift cost", "get gift givers to give a small donation to a nominated charity instead", "reuse wrapping paper" and one only for those strong of will "opt out altogether."

    Origin of Buy Nothing Day
    Buy Nothing Day originated in Canada in 1992 from the brain of artist/activist Ted Dave, as a way of addressing the overconsumption he saw by the rich countries of the world. The event has grown to encompass around ten countries, including England, Holland, Canada and the US.


    Published with permission from NZine