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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Don't shop shopping...

So yesterday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the US, Dottie and I had a brilliant idea - we would buy nothing all day (we didn't have the idea till we had in fact bought a cup of frothy coffee, our first this month, from Roasters in Narrowsburg, but at least that was only $2.25.). Our reasoning is that some people believe that western consumer culture is what's at the root of global warming, and also we wanted to thoroughly disassociate ourselves from people like the really annoying ones on the radio who were shrieking about having been camped outside their local mall since 3am to get in early on the day-after-Thanksgiving bargains (they said their fellow campers were now 'like family'. Bonding over the promise of cut-price tumble driers - I think they need to get a life).

Then we got home and found out (on a tipoff from the hubby's cousin Mopsy) that we were as usual either behind the curve or bang on trend, depending on how you look at it, because it was in fact Buy Nothing day yesterday in the US and today in the rest of the world (see Adbusters.org for more info). So we bought nothing for the rest of the day and have also bought nothing so far today, either (not hard as we haven't actually left the house yet. But at least we were both up and dressed by 10. Well, alright, 10.30).

We hadn't really thought about not shopping at all, as opposed to only shopping for certain things, as a way to be green until our friend Circe (check out her brilliant photos at circephoto.com) put us on to the Freegans, a group who found it nigh-on impossible to shop ethically so they've completely boycotted the economic system. Best know for dumpster raiding, they exist entirely on found items or through barter and almost never buy anything at all (Circe followed them on a Dumpster raid round New York one night for a story and said it was a right laugh). The Freegan philosophy is a bit extreme for us to take up wholesale - eating food out of a dumpster is a bit different from the old 5-second rule, and while we don't exactly have a shopping problem on the scale of some of our friends (you know who you are...) the idea of NEVER again experiencing the thrill of the new APC tunic or boxfresh Marc by Marc Jacobs flats is a bit more than we can swallow just at the moment - but it has made us feel better about being too skint to buy very much at all for now (penury as a political statement - brilliant!) and think harder about what we throw in the bin (do you know I once put a pair of Marc Jacobs shoes in the rubbish? Sooo wantonly wasteful and I regret it to this day. That'll teach me).

Luckily there's still Christmas to put things right (adbusters is recommending a buy nothing Xmas too). Our friends and family can look forward to a Christmas morning filled with fairy liquid bottles, empty loo rolls and sticky-backed plastic - lucky old them. (Oh my god, I just checked and not only is Blue Peter still on, but they actually still do all the crafty things. There are even some fairly eco-friendly options, like the compost bin cannily disguised as a dalek or the furry animal hanger, a canny way to revamp an ordinary household item.)

Speaking of Christmas, we're off to the tree lighting and Christmas carols in our local town Narrowsburg. If we were being really good we'd perhaps even boycott this, but it is Dot's first Christmas and hey, we never claimed to be Freegans...

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