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Eco-retailer says ‘buy less’!

December 14, 2011

Great Christmas email from Nigel’s eco store (Thanks Sarah and Ewan for the link…):

Hi there, Last Saturday was Buy Nothing day. As a retailer, we know the last Saturday in November is one of the peak shopping days of the year. I bumped into Buy Nothing day via an interesting interview with Buy Nothing founder, and the man who started the Wall Street protest, Kalle Lasn, in the Independent a week ago.The thinking behind Buy Nothing day is pretty deep, and very much of the moment.Kalle says: “We are going to try and take back our Christmas season from the commercial forces that have hijacked it,” and suggests other options instead, such as a Buy Local, a Buy Fairer, or a Buy Indie, Christmas, or giving a “gift exemption” card to friends and family (instead of a gift voucher).

I gave Buy Nothing day a go, and bought nothing on Saturday. (See

It wasn’t that difficult as I was at home, pulling up the living room floor. But then it hit me that we didn’t have enough nice food for both lunch and dinner, and had to dig through the lentils and barley at the back of the cupboard to find something to eat for lunch. It didn’t take long, and was more healthy anyway. There were a few other purchases that I didn’t make that ordinarily I would have.

Buying nothing made me think about what we buy. (And, by association, where it comes from, what it’s made of, and how much it will be used.) Often we don’t stop and think about it.As a retailer it’s easy to get seduced by the idea that our job is to sell more stuff. And Buy Nothing day is, at first look, an uncomfortable idea for us because of that.But as a resourceful eco retailer, we have to get our priorities right and make sure we’re not adding to the stuff and the tat, and the things we don’t really need. For our Christmas campaign and January sale we’ll make sure they’re focussed around usefulness and resourcefulness and buying less.

We’re not alone in this.Sustainable clothing brand Patagonia are telling consumers to buy less of their new range. They make apparel that costs more, but they want you to buy quality that lasts. And they’ve set up a second-hand shop on their site.

There’s also signs that we’re all buying less. The UK reached ‘peak stuff’ this year and that makes me optimistic. If it’s true, ‘peak stuff’ means “it’s highly likely that we are now using fewer materials than at any time on record”.So this Christmas, buy secondhand (Ebay), buy handmade (Etsy), buy something resourceful like Sugru that allows your friends and family to hack, customise, make better, fix, and improve the stuff they already have. If you haven’t already, have a Buy Nothing day before Christmas.A friend of mine has suggested that next year we close the site down for the day to make the point….Nigel

PS we wrote a guide to Christmas a couple of years ago. It’s been popular and if anyone wants a copy it’s available for free as a pdf: Click Here

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 5:18 pm

    Sometimes we just buy out of habit, without even thinking if we really need what we’re buying, and even worst is the fact that we already have food at home that needs to be used and just sits there for ages, so it’s good sometimes to realize what we’re doing and take control of our buying habits.

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