Buy Nothing Day

In the current economic climate, Buy Nothing Day is likely to raise more hackles than ever before in its 17-year history. I suspect that even those Americans who recognize the ultimate futility of our consumer-based culture may be experiencing — as I am — a nagging little internal voice doubting whether it’s such a good idea to encourage consumers to tighten their wallets up even further, given the state of the economy. As in, how much worse might it get if retailers have their worst Christmas ever? As in, maybe a little consumer spending might be the right medicine to get things rolling again in the near term, and never mind for the moment that it’s a house of cards long term — we’ll figure that out later.

But, as Adbusters adamantly urges, the truth is that in the end we’ll all be better off if we confront the root problem head on:

“Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low? There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.”

Adbusters founder Kalle Lasn:

“If you dig a little past the surface you’ll see that this financial meltdown is not about liquidity, toxic derivatives or unregulated markets, it’s really about culture. It’s our culture of excess and meaningless consumption — the glorified spending and borrowing of the past decade that’s at the root of the crisis we now find ourselves in. A simpler, pared-down lifestyle – one in which we’re not drowning in debt – may well be the answer to this crisis we’re in. Living within our means will also make us happier and healthier than we’ve been in years.”

And Adbusters, masters of the meme, have a new name for the dawning era: The Age of Post-Materialism. Buy it?