Sunday, 28 November 2010

Consumerism.

Last week I received an e-mail about ‘Buy Nothing Day’ in the U.K. this was the first I had heard about it. It was on Saturday the 27th of November. It is a day which tries to highlight the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. It encourages people to fight back against consumerism by asking everyone to stop shopping for just one day in the hope that people step back and think about the situation and maybe gain a consumer conscience. The website says, “We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair.” For more information on ‘Buy Nothing Day’ click here.


I’m not really convinced that ‘Buy Nothing Day’ would have been a success especially since most people I had spoken to hadn’t heard anything about it. I do agree with it though, I think we all need a day or two to detox from shopping even although I can’t lie I do like to shop!  One thing that gets to me every year is the Boxing Day sales, what’s the need! Most people have probably got all they need and more judging by how packed the shops are leading up to Christmas but still the majority of people get up early to queue up outside shops to buy more stuff! I know that big companies would laugh at the thought of just keeping their stores closed for an extra day, I’m sure in a few years most will be opening their doors on Christmas Day. Boxing Day is the day when the British public should be united, say no and have ‘Buy Nothing Day’. Then we can all slow down, relax an extra day, spend some quality time with friends and family or do the things we complain we never have time to do because we’re always too busy working. This will give us some extra time to just enjoy Christmas. Hopefully then the stores will close and leave us in peace just for a day or two and people will realise we’ve got what we need at least for a while.

I think they way people shop and where they shop needs to change to stop the consequences of consumerism. I don’t think it’s really that wanting stuff is bad, it’s wanting too much stuff that is the problem and buying things that have to be thrown away because they are out of date or not durable enough to last.

‘Primark’ is a shop that I try to avoid and have rarely bought anything from. It encourages disposable fashion and by offering their clothes at extremely low prices they give people the chance to buy into trends that will change the next month. The magazines feed us with what’s hot and what’s not and a lot of people try to keep up, by buying cheap clothes to stay trendy but then throwing them away when the trend changes. They do this because shops like ‘Primark’ let them and encourage them. This doesn’t just affect the environment, to achieve such low prices children make their clothes getting paid pennies and working conditions are poor. In 2008 I watched ‘Panorama, Primark: On the Rack’ which showed ‘Primark’ breaking their promises on child labour and long hours. Click here to go to the BBC website and watch a video to hear a little about the investigation.

Shoppers with bags and bags stuffed with Primark clothes.


People need to think before they buy. Buying key pieces and things that they will treasure for years to come in my opinion will slow down consumerism. Being sensible with what you buy can lead to an item of clothing being fashionable for years and will also show someone’s true style and personality instead of wearing what the media tells them to wear. But buying cheap items of clothing is more appealing to the majority of people so I’m not sure how disposable fashion can be stopped. Not many people are willing to pay more for something that will last longer or sometimes these things, particularly if it’s jewellery, can be passed down for generations.

Due to the poor quality of cheap goods people often need to replace them year after year, so these goods don’t end up as cheap as people believe. An example of this that I keep hearing about is winter boots. I bought a pair of boots 6 years ago and every year when it starts to get cold I bring them out, they are starting to look a little faded but they are still sturdy and still cosy. I know other people who have bought similar boots not paying as much but have had to replace these boots every year as the soles wore away along with the fur and the boots stayed damp.

I know most people object to paying more for a product or feel they can’t afford it but maybe they should spend a little more on one thing instead of spending their money buying lots of stuff which is turning out to be dangerous to our planet.

‘I think it is a good thing to buy less and choose well - it's good for the environment...’ 
– Vivienne Westwood.

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