I recently just started my new job at a Bluenotes clothing store in the Woodbine Mall. It was one of the most hectic 5 hours of my life. Customers were coming in and out of the store every 30 seconds, maybe even less. Christmas time is coming so I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t expect it to be that crazy. My task for the day was to be the greeter in the front of the store, tidying up the clothes and telling each customer about the promotions going on. Personally, I hate it when salespeople hover or attack you as soon as you walk in. I feel bad so I usually stand and listen, knowing that everything they just told me I would forget in point five seconds (my attention span is easily deteriorated). When there was a 30 second break I asked my manager how I was doing, and I confessed that I feel bad bombarding the customer (speaking from my own experience) but I was told not to worry because it was part of my job. Speak up and speak loudly I was told. We had a goal to make for how much of our products we sold and we only had about 2 in a half hours left to make it. So that’s what I did. I bombarded each customer with the promotions we had (which were pretty darn good if I do say so myself) and even made a couple sales myself. I dealt with complaints that the line-ups were taking too long because there were so many people waiting to buy stuff. At the end of my shift I didn’t have a voice left and I couldn’t feel my feet.
My experience working for the first time in retail was enjoyable but it made me think of today’s blog subject: Buy Nothing Day. I chuckled to myself because where I was and what these people were doing was complete opposite. Walking through the mall during Christmas time is like walking through a pack full of lions waiting for their chance to attack and try to sell you the ‘latest trend’ or product that if you just bought two more in different colours, you could save yourself oh about 5 bucks. In the mall you are bombarded with promotions and sale signs that are taller then you advertising in bright colours and font that everything is 50% off and then in small print only if you buy the first product full price will the next then become half off. I have a tendency to walk into these giant signs. They’re usually put in the most inconvenient places, like the front door of a store; you’d think I’d notice them eh. Oh maybe I walk into them cause I’m too busy trying to read the fine print so I don’t get suckered into buying more than I had intended to.
Buy Nothing Day is trying to spread awareness about over consumption – something our generation is known for. Some may not admit to it but we all subconsciously know we are or have been guilty of it at some point in our lives. What the frightening thought is that some people still don’t or cannot understand why they are in debt. Or how they went over their Christmas gift limit they tried to go by when buying gifts for their families. It seems as if people have become dependant on these materialistic things to achieve happiness. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters has a scary statistic: The average North American consumes 5 times more than a Mexican person, 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 time more than a person from India. There is something gravely wrong with those numbers.
Upon first hearing of Buy Nothing Day, I did not think it would be possible to complete. People would just go out the day before and get the stuff they need and everything would be just dandy the day of so they could say ‘oh yeah Buy Nothing Day, I didn’t buy a single thing!’ Once researching the topic more, I then realized that doesn’t matter. It’s getting people to understand what the message is that matters. How to determine the difference between do I NEED that? Or do I WANT it? It can be a tricky question to answer most of the time. It is a question I argue every day of my life.
Do something different on Buy Nothing Day this November 28th 2008. Don’t give in to consumerism, spread the awareness tell your friends, your family. Make gifts this year for Christmas. They’ll have a heck of a lot more meaning than something that may or may not have been made in a sweatshop and you’ll know you’re giving back to this place called the Earth, the place that we call home.
“Buy Nothing Day”. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters. Adbusters. 23 Nov 2008.
PS. Here’s 10 things you could do instead of shopping on Buy Nothing Day
1. Go to a library. Pick up some new books. here are a few reading lists to give you some ideas, the worsted witch, canada reads, 1001 books you should read before you die.
2. Bake something using things you have in your cupboard. Or bake something you've never made before. check out Orangette for some great ideas, (i've enjoyed everything I've made of hers).
3. Make a list of raw materials you have in your house, (things you could recycle or alter to create something new). Find some projects to make using things on your list. Resources: Make, Craft, Instructables, Readymade, Supernaturale, get crafty, make your own gifts out of recycled sweaters, (see example here.)
4. Write a letter.
-to someone you care about
-to a politician (requesting change on a topic you care about)
-to a corporation
5. Plan an expedition. Take a walk in nature. collect a variety of items you find on your travels. Use the items to a) make a mobile, or b) decorate your home.
6. Create some guerilla art pieces & install them with friends.
7. Install your very own Portable Xmas Tree, (completely free!) And while your at it, create some Instant Snow.
8. Have a clothing (or stuff) swap party with friends. for directions see the Naked Lady Party.
9. Donate to something you believe in. (or sign up to volunteer somewhere).
10. Write about the best gifts you ever received. (my story)
Visit the link: http://www.kerismith.com/blog/archives/000521.html for more ideas!
PPS. Also check out youtube videos for Reverend Billy - his personal mission is to rid our culture of consumerism, he asks 'what would Jesus buy?' He uses humour to get his message across. If you're looking for a good laugh check him out too!