The Buy Nothing movement

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.


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Submitted by jmajo on Fri, 22/09/2023 - 14:35


It’s a really good movement, but it should’n be only a trend, it would be a day by day habit for everyone in every country all over the world, those whom have extra money to buy things they do not really need should think twice before do it and spend their money in local services or products they’d really would use in Long term.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

Submitted by SRKSNO01H46A390I on Thu, 29/06/2023 - 19:36


Personally, I'm against overconsumption because I only buy clothes or anything else when need them otherwise I don't buy anything.

Submitted by maryamabata on Tue, 20/06/2023 - 19:00


For me, I think to be in balance is the strong side. Just to be aware of what I need and what I don't. Sometimes we could buy something just for pleasure, there is no issue, the essential is not to be a habit and then an addiction.

Submitted by lay_sx on Mon, 19/06/2023 - 20:05


in our actual world we also spend a lot of money with some foods
that we dont really need, just for pleasure not for necessity.

Submitted by Artyev on Sat, 20/05/2023 - 00:07


In my opinion, the buy nothing trend is a really good opportunity to save our enviroment and make it clearer. A lot of people in poor countries (like me) can't afford buy useless clothes, which we can wear only two-third times and then throw away. It`s unacceptable for us, so, we can say, that we are members of this interesting trend!

Submitted by sahinmazlum65 on Wed, 29/03/2023 - 18:18


İf people do not waste everything all the time, we maybe needn't a movement like that. But this is an impossible dream 'cause people like waste everything in any case and I hope this movement will help the earth.

Submitted by İhsan Furkan on Thu, 16/03/2023 - 07:55


I think the buy movement is good to our environment. It saves our planet but this is not enough to make major positive affects to our environment. Big fashion companies and governments have to take action before the world is uninhabitable. For example, there can be a rule which says if you buy many clothes above the limit, you have to recycle the excessive part on your wardrobe.

Submitted by Cemill on Thu, 16/03/2023 - 07:26


The 'buy nothing' trend is really important. Because people need to put an end to their unnecessary shopping habits. Due to unnecessary shopping, nature is being destroyed and great damage is done to our world. Just as there are days and weeks that encourage shopping, there should be days or weeks that encourage living without shopping.

Submitted by Sanja on Thu, 16/02/2023 - 13:24


I usually don't bye things if they aren't necessary but I used to buy many toys for kids which is resulted in tons of plastic in the house and in the garbage. Probably it is more clever to spend quality time with children outside then bying a lot of toys they don't need actually.

Submitted by RuthYong on Thu, 18/08/2022 - 03:57


Dear team,I have questions to clarify.
Q6. Buy Nothing Day is a protest against credit cards. Why is the answer false? I thought the answer should be true based on this statement: "On Buy Nothing Day people organise various types of protests and cut up their credit cards." Please clarify.
Q7. The two friends who did the ‘buy nothing’ experiment only bought food for 12 months. Why is the answer false for this question? Based on the statement, 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.? So I thought the answer should be true.
Please clarify these two questions. Thanks