Buy Nothing Day 2010 essay

Buy Nothing Day 2010 essay

Buy Nothing Day 2010

Consumerism and growth seem to dominate policy thinking in the United States.  Politicians are obsessed with economic growth, or recently the lack thereof.  Everything except the military is at risk of being defunded if tax revenues do not rise.  Maybe it is just the priorities that are askew, both those raising economic growth above all other values and those funding the military before all other priorities.

I tend to think we are essentially at the end of economic growth.  The collapse of global ecosystems means that growth will be very hard to create, and what growth we do see will mostly be the result of financial manipulations rather than real economic development.  The housing bubble and the financial bubble were the direct result of a lack of productive places to put investment capital.  There are no new forests to cut, no new fisheries to exploit, no country that has not already been brought into the market economy.  Without new resources and consumers economic growth slows to a crawl.  The rich go crazy and invent new economic shenanigans to suck up more money, since the old and tried (tired) methods, no longer have juice in a world of airplanes, the internet, and 7 billion people.

Eventually we are going to have to reach a new equilibrium for our economy.  That new equilibrium will be underpinned by the understanding that we have to use less and share more.  We have to heal the ecosystems that feed and cloth us, and the only path to this requires us to end poverty rather than foster ever greater accumulations of wealth by the few.  Often I describe the way forward with this quote:  You can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems.

It is this dual mission that lies at the heart of my understanding of the Buy Nothing Day winter coat exchange.  Without a serious effort to end poverty we shall forever be caught up in the more game, the use of ever more, ever faster, until it completely runs out.  Without cultivating a serious ethic of healing the ecosystems of planet earth so that they can continue to support us we shall see an ever widening gap between rich and poor as resources are more and more reserved for the rich, driving the vicious circle that leads to wars for oil, massive oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, the destruction of the forests that are the lungs of the world, and fishermen resorting to piracy to keep the industrial fishing fleets away from the areas they fish to feed their families.

It it important beyond what I can describe that the piracy in Somalia worked well enough that local fishermen are again able to catch fish and feed their families now that the industrial trawlers are  staying way.  Why did it take these extreme measures so that people can feed their families?  Must the rich take everything they can grab?

Instead of screaming I try to channel the instinct to heal the world into something productive.  Much of my time this year has been taken up seeking ways to collect up all the food scrap in Rhode Island so we can turn it into compost and use the compost to revitalize a local agriculture here focused on growing our own food.  The benefits of this are vast.  Reduced carbon emissions, healthier food, more local jobs.  Buy Nothing Day in Rhode Island works the same way.  A resource that is being squandered (in this case winter coats sitting in closets) can save landfill space, save on the emissions generated buy making and shipping coats, and place new resources in the hands of people who can most use them, without generating new dollars of funny money.

I am dedicating my work on BND this year to the people who live along the Gulf of Mexico.  The rush for oil has lead to massive pollution, the loss of livelihoods, the destruction of the foods that feed them.  A new economy, one based on using less and sharing more is the only way forward in the Gulf, and in Rhode Island.  Join us at a Buy Nothing Day winter coat exchange  in your neighborhood ( there are 5 sites in Rhode Island;  Providence, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Newport, and Woonsocket) on November 26 and take that step towards a better Rhode Island.

14th Annual BUY NOTHING  DAY 
If you have a coat to give, please drop it off.
If you need a coat, please pick one up.
State House lawn 
(directly across from Providence Place mall)
rain location St Johns Cathedral 570 N Main St Providence
Pawtucket Visitors Center, 175 Main St. Pawtucket
On November 26th 2010 – the busiest day in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season – thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the  annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and the frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of over-consumption.  In Providence as part of International Buy Nothing Day, we hold a winter coat exchange on the lawn of the State House directly across from Providence Place mall. In Pawtucket the transfer of coats takes place at the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center with . There are many partners for this event: community organizations, places of worship, civic, and environmental groups. Volunteers are needed to help with this life-affirming event.
Contact information: Providence  Greg Gerritt: 331-0529;;
Phil Edmonds: 461-3683;
Pawtucket –  Arthur Pitt 724-8915;<>
Newport – St Paul’s Church 12 West Marlborough St. Maggie Bulmer 849-3537.
Woonsocket   St Ann’s Arts and Cultural Center  84 Cumberland StreetWally Rathbun
Wakefield –St. Francis Church, 114 High Street, 10AM to noon Tom Abbott 364-0778

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