Friday, November 26, 2010

Today was Buy Nothing Day, originally a Canadian invention and now a worldwide "event", or non-event as the case may be. Molly was more or less true to the spirit of the day except that I felt compelled to go to the Liquor Commission to acquire more booze for the weekend. Actually it's pretty easy for me to observe such a day as the LC and the gas station account for pretty well over 90% of my purchases. I have to buy gas as a requirement to keep working. Maybe the booze is the same, along with the 222s for the arthritis and the occasional 50 cents for air for the slow leaking tire that the garage didn't manage to fix. Yeah a lot of places now charge for air if you can believe it or not. That seems like some sort of ultimate to me.

All that being said the idea of Buy Nothing Day seems to have gathered support outside of those who would rather spend their money on $15,000 "eco-tours" and naturopathic quackery. It has gathered the support of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) as the following article from them shows. Now a cynic might say that this merely speaks for a segment of the population that consume in different ways from the majority and would like said majority to follow their path, voluntarily or otherwise. And if they cannot afford to consume the "correct" way then too bad for them.

But does it have to be that way ? This year there is an alternative, at least in the Spanish speaking world. The 'Huelga De Consumo' promoted by the Spanish CGT bears a superficial resemblance to the Buy Nothing Day, but this event set for December 21 is another animal entirely. While it contains all of the feel-good ecoboo of BND it is expressly set forth as an instrument of class struggle, not as some new age correction of the presumed moral failings of the masses who do not share the social values (and privileges) of the 'new class'. It is meant as a 'trial balloon', following the September 29th general strike in Spain, to see if even more pressure can be put on the ruling class. It should be noted that the Spanish CGT with up to 100,000 members and representing up to 2 million Spanish workers in workplace elections is not an insignificant force.

Quite frankly I feel much more comfortable with this sort of thing than I do with the anglosphere idea of 'Buy Nothing Day' if for no other reason than the fact that the latter is merely something resembling a religious declaration of principle while a Consumers' Strike is something that may actually be a real weapon in a class war. I don't know how well the CGT's idea will lay out, but I will certainly translate further information about it here on this blog.

Until then, here is CUPE's statement on Buy Nothing Day. A very small step, but at least it is something.
Buy Nothing Day – cut back on waste
Nov 25, 2010 01:10 PM

Friday, November 26, 2010 is Buy Nothing Day, a day set aside to shun our consumptive ways. The day was first recognized in Vancouver in 1992 and has since spread throughout the world.

The Friday after the American Thanksgiving was selected for Buy Nothing Day as this day traditionally in the United States signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping rush.

Buy Nothing Day is a time to examine over-consumption and its effects on the environment and our culture. Specifically, over-consumption is linked to excess waste generation, rising greenhouse gas emissions, negative effects on the air, water and soil quality, and other environmental issues.

Here are just a few waste facts to consider:

►According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, by the age of 6 months, the average Canadian has consumed the same amount of resources as the average person in the developing world consumes in a lifetime.

►The average Canadian produces 997 kilograms of waste per year, according to Statistics Canada.

►Environment Canada estimated that more than 140,000 tonnes of computer equipment, phones, televisions, stereos and small home appliances accumulate in Canadian landfill cites each year.

►The CUPE National Environment Committee urges members to stop and consider these impacts and refrain from buying anything on Friday November 26. Rather than celebrating consumerism by shopping, CUPE members are encouraged to celebrate the Earth.

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