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The Buy Nothing movement

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Reading text

Social media, magazines and shop windows bombard people daily with things to buy, and British consumers are buying more clothes and shoes than ever before. Online shopping means it is easy for customers to buy without thinking, while major brands offer such cheap clothes that they can be treated like disposable items – worn two or three times and then thrown away.

In Britain, the average person spends more than £1,000 on new clothes a year, which is around four per cent of their income. That might not sound like much, but that figure hides two far more worrying trends for society and for the environment. First, a lot of that consumer spending is via credit cards. British people currently owe approximately £670 per adult to credit card companies. That's 66 per cent of the average wardrobe budget. Also, not only are people spending money they don't have, they're using it to buy things they don't need. Britain throws away 300,000 tons of clothing a year, most of which goes into landfill sites.

People might not realise they are part of the disposable clothing problem because they donate their unwanted clothes to charities. But charity shops can't sell all those unwanted clothes. 'Fast fashion' goes out of fashion as quickly as it came in and is often too poor quality to recycle; people don't want to buy it second-hand. Huge quantities end up being thrown away, and a lot of clothes that charities can't sell are sent abroad, causing even more economic and environmental problems.

However, a different trend is springing up in opposition to consumerism – the 'buy nothing' trend. The idea originated in Canada in the early 1990s and then moved to the US, where it became a rejection of the overspending and overconsumption of Black Friday and Cyber Monday during Thanksgiving weekend. On Buy Nothing Day people organise various types of protests and cut up their credit cards. Throughout the year, Buy Nothing groups organise the exchange and repair of items they already own.

The trend has now reached influencers on social media who usually share posts of clothing and make-up that they recommend for people to buy. Some YouTube stars now encourage their viewers not to buy anything at all for periods as long as a year. Two friends in Canada spent a year working towards buying only food. For the first three months they learned how to live without buying electrical goods, clothes or things for the house. For the next stage, they gave up services, for example haircuts, eating out at restaurants or buying petrol for their cars. In one year, they'd saved $55,000.

The changes they made meant two fewer cars on the roads, a reduction in plastic and paper packaging and a positive impact on the environment from all the energy saved. If everyone followed a similar plan, the results would be impressive. But even if you can't manage a full year without going shopping, you can participate in the anti-consumerist movement by refusing to buy things you don't need. Buy Nothing groups send a clear message to companies that people are no longer willing to accept the environmental and human cost of overconsumption.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


But nothing trend is interesting topic.
I think if I follow this idea, I can save a lot of money from my life- yes.
but I think the people should consume some money to make up himself, right?
But in order to track fashion, to waste a lot money is not good way.
I think we can grow own personalities and manner without buying a lot of clothes or shoes.
Tracking fashion(Fast fashion) is only for girls, I think.
If the man is who has family, who have children, he should save his salary for his wife , child and family.
Right? Thanks.

Only buy what I really need, not buy what i want. for instance, I bought a shoes last years and it still worth to use. Meanwhile, I see on market place there is newest edition of my favorite shoes. So, I have to hold my self not to buy that shoes. It might be tough in the begining but It would be changing the consumerism behaviour.

I think that it's a good idea to launch the 'bye nothing trend' because people took an habit to overspend and buy a lot of things, they become addicted. So they need to return to normal which means buying just what they really need and by practicing 'buying nothing' they could control their spending.

At a first glance the "Buy Nothing" trend seems to be quite a good initiative for people to be aware of a problem that is frequently disguised as a necessity taking for granted that the modern world trends plunge people into the dejection of feeling that they are not going to feel sufficient if they don't have what the marketing campaigns tells them they are supposed to have within a shallow stereotype of consumerism based on a created bias inserted in the consent of a problem that doesn't necessarily exists.

The buy nothing trend is a very good example for Asian countries. Because individuals with higher income tend to spend more amount on the products which have less value. For example, shopping websites like, Flipkart, etc. share the products which do not have much value. For instance, the decoration items for a birthday party displayed on the websites with higher prices than the items compared with the local shops.
Thus, I think one must follow the buy nothing trend in order to overcome the problem.