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Give your credit cards a break

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | Opinion | November 28th, 2005

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Now that the Christmas season is infiltrating our lives on a daily basis, we are constantly reminded that ‘tis the season to watch our credit card bills rise and bank account balances drop.

Many of you probably know that Friday, November 25, aside from being the American Thanksgiving, was also the biggest shopping day of the year for our southern neighbours.

What you may not know is that Friday, November 25, aside from being the second anniversary of a women being trampled and left unconscious by hundreds of greedy, cheap DVD hungry Wal-Mart shoppers in Florida, was also International Buy Nothing Day.

Canadian left-wing political activist and Adbusters founder, Kalle Lasn, along with Vancouver artist Ted Dave, started Buy Nothing Day in 1993 to protest society's growing tendency to over-consume. Buy Nothing Day is about taking the time to stop, think, and question the products we buy and question the companies who make them.

The concept of the day really isn't that hard to grasp — just don't buy anything for 24 hours. No coffee, no Tic Tacs, no George Forman Grills and no Luxury SUV's. Nothing.

Over the years, participants have handed out flyers and fake receipts outside of busy shopping malls, cut up their credit cards and put glue on the locks of stores. This year Adbusters promoted shopping at Whirl-Mart, which encouraged patrons to repeatedly fill their carts up at Wal-Mart and purchase the items, only to repeatedly take advantage of the department store's guaranteed return policy.

According to Adbusters, 20 per cent of the world's population (also known as the developed countries) is consuming 80 per cent of the earth's natural resources. This fact alone should send a red flag out to people who are even remotely concerned about our environment.

In North America this anti-consumerist celebration is also called ‘Black Friday', but in approximately 55 countries around the world, like Indonesia, Japan, Denmark and New Zealand, Buy Nothing Day is held on a Saturday.

The only problem with sustaining from shopping for one day is that the next day everyone will trudge out to the malls around the world and begin that holiday ritual of over-spending. Buy Nothing Day participants will think they have done this holier then thou deed for society, but in reality, on November 26 those same people will buy a new purse, Xbox 360 or iPod.

My point is that Buy Nothing Day, although great for spreading the word about over-consumption, does not solve our problems in the long run.

This year the anti-consumer activists are also supporting a Buy Nothing Christmas. If anything, I hope the Buy Nothing rituals make people stop, think, and question the products they buy on an daily basis and not just on Black Friday or around the Christmas season.
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