Saturday 26 November is the UK's 'Buy Nothing Day'. No, it's not about saving money, or giving to charity, though most people who participate will do one one or the other. It's about not wasting your life and planet by filling it with things you don't need.
Our economy apparently requires 'growth'. For the last 15 years its 'growth' has been maintained on credit. That is, money we didn't have. We all went crazy together. Now the bailiffs are at the door and we don't have any more credit. And to be honest, all that growth is a pain anyway.
Q. Why do my electrical appliances keep breaking?
A. Because someone has to dig the elements to make it out of the ground, and others have to refine them and others have to buy and sell the materials and others have to make new designs and others have to put them together and others to advertise and others to sell them. And all these people have to eat and make a living, which is why you have to pay £35 for £3's worth of metal and plastic, and in 18 months you'll have to do it again. Because otherwise, although there is enough food and shelter for everyone, all these people won't be allowed to have any. And if we can't do the same soon, neither will we.
So we have appliances that are made to break, and waste human time and planetary resources. We have clothes that actually impede us in our activities and quickly fall apart (it's called 'fashion' and it wastes the lives of practically half the planet). And we don't just own our junk - we are defined by it. Some of us will build our entire lives around shopping, comparing, consumption and upgrading. We'll even start treating our relationships the same way. The most gullible and addicted of us all will fight to be top executives or their pet government ministers. If humanity put all that time and energy into solving real problems we could all be living in a paradise now.
Apparently top executives just won't work without vast perks and bonuses because they compare themselves against their peer group - and their package has to look bigger, right?
Now to me, the guy who is winning is the guy, or woman, who would go in to work whether s/he was paid or not, because s/he so wanted to be there, doing that job. After all, money is only money, but a day of your life - that is the real estate. But now, we are firmly told, our national economy - which is our national security, depends on executives who will sell out our country in a heartbeat if they can't have infinite junk and have the means to buy infinitely more. So some of us, the weakest ones, who are sick, or old or disabled, and their children, the ones who can't shop enough, they will have to go without enough food or shelter any more. Uh-oh.
The rest of us are continuously hustled to keep on making and chasing junk, like rats in a wheel. Every newspaper and TV channel finds ways to convince us that we don't have enough of it, just so we'll keep knocking ourselves out to find ways to buy more of it. And so that those that have the most and 'best' junk can be reassured that it matters. That it makes us safe.
In fact it is blood-sappingly boring. So boring that half of us are eating ourselves to death to numb our guts from the unspeakable, futile pointlessness of it all. So boring that thousands find the most repetitive computer games more engaging than actual life. So futile that millions of us get completely off our heads every weekend just to forget about it. So dull that millions more have to take medication to help re-engage with the mass 'aspiration'. So empty that thousands of us develop 'spiritual' lives dedicated to the re-arranging of their junk.
We don't need to dedicate our existences to junk. We don't need to destroy the planet in the process. We don't need to waste billions of precious life-hours feeding the obsession. There is more to human existence than this. Our planet can feed everyone. It can clothe us all. There is plenty for us all to do. Remember art? Remember love? Remember fun? Buy nothing for one day. Make a song instead. (Or a decent kettle that can last ten years and be recycled.) It's a start.
To find out more about Buy Nothing Day UK visit http://www.buynothingday.co.uk/