Editorial Board 2001-2002
Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day.
No, it is not a union-negotiated day-off for mall workers. Rather, it is a day for us over-spenders to take a breather from our mindless shopping sprees.
Created in 1993 by Adbusters magazine, Buy Nothing Day asks consumers to take a break from "our consumerist culture that embraces materialism."
Considering 20 per cent of the world's population consumes 80 per cent of its resources, a break from our capitalist indulgences would be welcome.
In celebration of Buy Nothing Day, Oxfam UWO will set up a kiosk in the University Community Centre atrium, where supporters can indulge in a free store, free "fair trade" coffee and ecological footprints whatever the hell that is.
Considering the economic downturn resulting from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on a America and a push for increased spending, the timing of Buy Nothing Day may be inappropriate.
Oxfam, however, is right to ask us to question our purchases. Child labour is a reality for many children around the world. While many of us feel sad when we hear the words 'child labour,' we still support many companies that use it just so we can sport 'cool' clothes around campus.
On the other hand, making less than a dollar a day may be a good wage for a kid in the Third World, compared to the other jobs available to them. Even so, forcing children to work in sub-standard conditions by offering them a competitive, yet minuscule wage is wrong.
We need to insist factories have both competitive wages and safe workplaces.
For those of us who believe supporting these companies is wrong, finding an alternative can be difficult. Are there any alternatives to buying sweat-shop clothing? How can we be sure how and where an article of clothing is manufactured?
A common misconception is that Buy Nothing Day seeks to end or disrupt capitalism. That's not the case. Rather, it seeks to make people aware of how they consume.
Buy Nothing Day brings attention to problems like child labour and since when has raising attention to any cause been a negative thing?
As an alternative to buying useless 'crap,' we could donate more of our money to charities and relief organizations.
People should not disagree with re-evaluating our consumer habits.
This is a symbolic event we have the opportunity to partake in for one day that fosters an idea we should keep on our minds all year.
Perhaps the folks at Oxfam and Adbusters need to clarify their message. Perhaps with a little more clarification of the goals of Buy Nothing Day, people will see it more as a day of 'consumerism re-evaluation' and less as another 'tambourine-playing hippie day of excitement.'