The Buy Nothing movement

The Buy Nothing movement

Read about the Buy Nothing movement and answer the questions to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


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.

Task 1

Task 2


Worksheet81.27 KB

Language level

Average: 4 (37 votes)

Submitted by Lau on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 20:49

I thing The Buy Nothing trend is a excellent campaign against the consumerism.

Submitted by NicoleAlbornoz on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 16:24

For me, "The buy nothing trend" its extremist. If people around the globe decide to cut all the shopping, it's going to have severe consequences on the global economy and specially on small companies. Fast fashion it's for sure a global problem. But it's most likely to make any changes if the customers demand a more honest and equal work for the employees and better quality in the final product. Also knowing that is going to make an impact on the final price. But in exchange, customer are going to get better quality products that can be use for many years. On the other hand, if magazines, publicity, marketing y fashion shows, are not wheeling to change the rules of the game, showing new trends every two weeks, it is probably that the customers are going keep the need of buying trends, and not clothes that are going to be part of a wardrobe. So, the "The buy nothing movement" its great for us to remember think twice before make any shopping. But, the world, our consumerist model of life, and the mentality needs to change to make any improvement.

Submitted by theberriz on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 16:01

I think its a great idea that could solve two essential problems in our society: First, the unnecessary consuming that leads to expending more money that we have and second, as the text says, it could help the environment.

Submitted by lifelearner on Wed, 05/02/2020 - 15:00

I believe it is a great idea as it really helps fight consumerism and overspending which is a big problem I see in my society daily where people keep buying things they don’t need to show up and replace the good items they have just for the sake of change. Othr thing I like to add is that it fights marketing companies that like to bombard consumers with advertisements of disposable unnecessary items that often goes to the landfill sites

Submitted by om mariam on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 09:08

I support this idea, it is a good sign that people consider over-consuming habit and buying things that they don’t need as one reasons of environmental problems.Beside personal problems, because when buying things became a daily habit it may develop to addiction which mean spend more money or even get in depth.All these can be avoided when people believe that they should buy what they need not what they want or to look more fashion.Children from early age should be taught buying new things will not make them happier.
Profile picture for user albert9315

Submitted by albert9315 on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 06:25

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.

Submitted by Fikymaulana on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 09:27

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.

Submitted by bsissi9 on Mon, 30/12/2019 - 12:14

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.