Buy Nothing Day, on 23rd November, is a direct response to the fact that the rich western countries – just 20% of the world’s population – are consuming 80% of the world’s resources, causing damage to the environment and an unfair distribution of wealth.
Buy Nothing Day is a chance to pause and reflect. To question what you buy and why you buy it. To celebrate the simpler, free things in life, like sharing time with those you love. We are all on the consumer treadmill to a greater or lesser extent, and taking time out can really make a difference to our wellbeing.
Here are top ten ways to reduce your consumerism at home:
1. Grow your own
Probably the simplest way to spend less and connect more. Get together with other gardeners and swap seeds and you won’t have to spend anything to get your garden flourishing.
There’s so much food available in our local environments and often we don’t even know it’s there. Jam-packed with life and goodness, once you get the foraging bug you won’t be able to stop! Borrow Richard Mabey’s ‘Food for Free’ from your local library to get you started.
3. Switch off
Make Buy Nothing Day the day you turn off electrical appliances and enjoy a peaceful day with the family. Turning off constant email and phone contact frees you up to spend time with those you love. Light a fire and some candles and play together. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll want to have a ‘switched off’ day every week.
4. Host a clothes swap
Get friends together and have a clothes swap. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. If you see something you like but it’s not quite right, why not customise it? You could extend your clothes swap gathering into a crafty ‘customising’ party!
5. Get outside and walk
Put the car keys in the drawer and use Shanks Pony instead. You’ll connect with the world around you, see things you’d never notice in the car and get some exercise too.
6. Rinse clothes out rather than wash them
If you’ve spilt a little something on your trousers or your top is in need of a freshen up, don’t run a washing cycle. Instead, give your clothes a rinse out when you’re in the shower and hang outside to dry. Quick and easy!
7. Make do and mend
Have you got a pile of broken things that need mending? Make today the day you fix broken items and sew up torn clothes. You’ll get a wonderful sense of satisfaction at having tackled those jobs and you won’t be compelled to go out and buy new!
8. Craft your Christmas
Get your kids together for a Christmas crafting day. Home-made gifts created with love mean so much more than another shop-bought item. Most relatives and friends would prefer a special decorated Christmas card with heartfelt words than something grabbed off the shelves at the last minute.
9. Read a book together
Get down to your local library and stock up on some family favourites. Rather than turning the telly on or playing computer games, gather round for family story-time. Telling stories and making music around the fire is how our ancestors passed winter evenings – it’s a fun way to be together. Instead of story-time, you could make music or play a board game.
10. Always ask yourself: do I need it?
Buy Nothing Day is a chance to take stock, but the lessons learnt need to be applied all year to be effective. Next time you find yourself in a shop swayed by persistent advertising or a rush of ‘shopper’s adrenalin’, ask yourself ‘do I need it?’. Sometimes giving yourself ten minutes and walking away from the shop (or the computer) is all you need to clear your head! You don’t need to be a Scrooge about life and can still enjoy lovely, well-made products – the key is to check the provenance of what you buy and shop with a clear conscience as much as you can.