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Originating in Vancouver, Canada, Buy Nothing Day draws attention to the harmful effects of over-consumption by industrialised nations on the rest of the world. Like our counterparts in North America and Europe, Australians use a vastly disproportionate share of the Earth's resources. Through this we significantly harm the environment and contribute to inequalities between the First and Third Worlds.

The International Buy Nothing Day is a day full of cheerful and peaceful actions and activities to confront the shopping audience in Western countries with the consequences of over- consumption and the influence of advertising on our daily lives.

Buy Nothing Day will be celebrated in Australia, Belgium, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 of November.

Why Buy Nothing Day?

25% of the world's population consumes 80% of the world's material resources and owns over 80% of its wealth. Although this global elite includes people in almost every country, it is mainly concentrated in the westernised, consumerist nations: the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan.

Therefore, the vast majority of the world's citizens has to be content with the remaining 20% This leads to hunger and poverty in large parts of the world. We must share the natural resources amongst all world-citizens. 'There is enough on earth for everybody's need, but not for everybody's greed', Mahatma Gandhi once said.

"People often don't realise the effects that consumerism has on their lives", says clinical psychologist Rodney Vlais, Australian contact person for Buy Nothing Day. "It is so easy to go into debt to buy things that aren't needed. To finance their spending, many people work long hours, leaving little time for what is most important - family, friends, community and the natural pleasures that money cannot buy."

"If people were to limit their spending to what they really needed, they could afford to work less, slow down and enjoy life more", Mr Vlais says.

There is a large variety of actions possible: from creating shopping-free zones in busy shopping areas by making a lounge area with sofas, tables, carpets, standard lamps etc., filled with people playing chess, repairing clothes, reading books, painting, chatting - anything that isn't shopping.; giving out Christmas Gift Exemption Vouchers, a ceremony of cutting up credit cards.

In 1994 an Aberdeen group of 'Enough' set up a market stall selling 'Happiness' (in reality empty paper bags) and a Manchester group took this one stage further and launched a new soft-drink "Happiness' in cans, complete with 'product shots' and their own audio commercial.

Buy Nothing Day will highlight that by consuming less people can reduce stress and make a better life for themselves.

The Western lifestyle is a serious threat for Earth's environment. Although more and more products use less energy and are made of recycled or less polluting materials, these innovations would completely be nullified if all world-citizens should live as Western people.

"To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, states should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption..." (principal 8 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992). Further information *