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.

Preparation

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

Discussion

Download
Worksheet81.27 KB

Language level

Average: 4 (37 votes)
Do you need to improve your English reading skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English reading skills with our online courses.
Profile picture for user Libra23

Submitted by Libra23 on Tue, 04/06/2024 - 17:12

Permalink

In our society where the consumerism is law, avoiding to spend and buy something it’s complicated. We are bombarded daily by advertisements, so our brain must resist against the sudden impulse to buy something. It’s like a drug, it isn’t simple to keep away this insane need and of course companies use our weakness to improve their profit.  

Submitted by aleseb3110 on Tue, 30/01/2024 - 13:32

Permalink

I don't consider I belong to this movement or totally agree with their ideas. But I must recognise the damage I have produced to our planet by buying things I don't really need like clothes, perfumes, etc. It's difficult to buy only the essential things that we need, mainly because society has created an idea of "more is more" and the comsumerism of nowadays has growed to unsuspected levels. However, I don't consider myself a thrown away person because if I buy a jacket or pant, I make sure I'll use it more than three of five times.

Submitted by Aima-23 on Tue, 28/11/2023 - 11:44

Permalink

I agree with Maryamabata that its important to have a good balance and enjoy buying things that I really want. In my perspective, refraining from spending money can let us feel frustraeted which is not a favorable outcome.

Submitted by betelf on Tue, 24/10/2023 - 18:07

Permalink

I think it's a very good trend. I appreciate minimalism and decluttering, but instead of just throwing things away, I've been trying to sell or give away items that I no longer use. This makes me think more carefully about buying things in the first place so I don't have to declutter them later.

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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.