BND sells us short
Founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave in September 1992 and promoted by Adbusters magazine, Buy Nothing Day encourages movers and shakers to bust out of their consumer shells and “stop living our five-planet lifestyle.”
The premise of Buy Nothing Day is good; as a country, we consistently live beyond our means, accumulate debt, fall into depression and make up for it by buying the next big toy.
In our massive spending obsession, we have laid relationships and empathy by the wayside. Buy Nothing Day is a wake up call.
But Urban75, a non-profit group based in Montreal, has ripped into Buy Nothing Day’s participants.
“The geniuses at Adbusters have managed to create the perfect feel-good, liberal, middle-class activist non-happening,” they say. “A day when the more money you make, the more influence you have… a day which, by definition, is insulting to the millions of people who are too poor or marginalized to be considered “consumers.”
Some BND’ers participate in mass credit card-cutting sessions in shopping centres. Some stage ‘zombie walks,’ where activists wander around shopping malls making expressionless shopping faces, and some steer empty shopping carts around malls to make a point.
Were I to be a lower-income person watching some rich woman walk around like a zombie, I’d question what she really thought she was doing for the world. But were someone to show me a picture of a fat, rich lady shopping in a fur coat next to a photo of a child starving in a third-world country, I’d be more inclined to see the point. The premise of BND is sound.
But if you’re participating, the activity you choose has to be meaningful.