Friday, November 23, 2007

What Buy Nothing Day Means to Me

About a week ago, my sister showed me a catalog she got in the mail. It was from Barney's, the department store, and the theme was "Green Holiday." Inside, the text says, "Join the Green Revolution, we did!" How do I feel about this, she asks?

Looking through this catalog, I was confronted with all the mixed feelings that I have as a business student and a staunch environmentalist. On the one hand, it's great that environmentalism is trendy these days, not just among the consuming public, but among companies that see environmentalism as a selling point for their products. Businesses might use the environment for good, creating new, cleaner technologies and reducing their waste without expense to the economy. On the other hand, every time someone in the U.S. buys anything, this consumption creates ripple effects around the world, causing possible environmental harms through resource depletion and pollution, or creating situations in which human rights are at risk or poor people and countries are dependent on our consumption of material goods for their survival.

For me, this is what Buy Nothing Day is all about. Taking a step away from this consumer lifestyle we live in, trying to understand what this lifestyle has done to our culture, our environment, and our happiness, and reflecting on the reasons why I'm part of this movement to consume wisely. I need a day in which I'm not burdened by what to buy, how much, what potential impacts it has, and why I'm buying it in the first place. In joining the Buy Nothing Day movement, I'm standing with many others who declare that we are humans first, not consumers.

So, I'm not joining the Green Revolution today, not if it means buying a whole bunch of stuff, eco-friendly or otherwise. I'll join the Green Revolution by learning about my impact on the world, by consuming consciously, and by spreading the word.

You can learn more about Buy Nothing Day at:

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