The Season's Hottest Item: Nothing
How to tame reckless consumerism while still scratching the shopping itch.This Friday marks the yearly pinnacle of conspicuous consumption-Black Friday, the day when shopaholism possesses the masses and elbowing your way through a crowd of fellow firey-eyed retail junkies becomes fair game. Friday, however, is also the 10th annual Buy Nothing Day-a global 24-hour moratorium on shopping in protest against thoughtless consumerism.Instead of pushing your typical guilt trip, the U.K.-based sustainability outfit Do The Green Thing is using clever humor to promote BND and the idea behind it. They've launched Buy Nothing, a tongue-in-cheek campaign against the idea of buying for the sake of buying. And because, let's face it, we've all been powerfully conditioned by the media to want and buy, Green Thing is helping us exorcise our shopping compulsion by offering a full-blown e-commerce experience in their Amazero mock-up store, where you can literally buy Nothing, complete with a Buy It Now button, a checkout cart, and even a confirmation email after your purchase.
The effort comes from the simple insight that over the holidays we end up getting-and giving-tons of useless stuff. (Thanks, grandma, that Snow White figurine is lovely...) Green Thing even did a survey, which found that 96 percent of people have gotten a useless gift at some point. This stuff, of course, requires earth's precious resources to make, yet most of it ends up as waste in landfills, junkyards, or a quick-to-be-forgotten box in the basement.Buy Nothing reflects one of Green Thing's seven sustainable actions, "stick with what you got"-the idea that our purchases are often the product of advertising and peer pressure, rather than genuine need, as we often forget to appreciate and use what we already own. The campaign features a dozen clever, irreverent testimonials by celebrities-from indie bands like We Are Scientists to actors like Sadie Frost-all vowing to buy Nothing.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=530z3Ix8-BQFor those most severe cases, Green Thing has enlisted Dr. Will Powers, retail therapist, reachable via email and Twitter for professional help in fighting off your strongest shopping impulses. You can also test the degree to which you've been adwashed by playing the All Spin No Substance game, where you get to guess the brand advertised based solely on its visual communication and iconography.So when you start craving some instant shopping gratification this holiday season, go ahead and buy yourself some nothing-we've worked out a special deal for GOOD readers, a whopping 50 percent discount. Scratch that shopping itch, ward off waste, and get the distinct, gratifying glow of doing the socially-conscious thing-or your money back.Guest blogger Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired U.K. and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.