On the one hand, setting aside the day after Thanksgiving—one of the busiest shopping days of the year—to call attention to our consumption-crazed culture is a great idea. But one Reno activist thinks it’s just a small move in the right direction.
Buy Nothing Day (Nov. 29) was kicked off several years ago by a culture-jamming group called Adbusters. It’s a good chance to remind folks in Nevada and across the United States that our nation makes up about a 20th of the world’s population, yet we manage to consume almost a third of its resources.
Thirty percent of those resources—paper, metal and plastic—are used merely on packaging the stuff we buy. For every 100 pounds of “product” produced in the United States, some 3,200 pounds of waste are generated, according to Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce. This includes manufacturing byproducts, wasted raw materials (like byproducts of trees), thrown away packaging and, eventually, the product itself.
Across the United States, the average person puts out about 4.5 pounds of garbage per day. In Nevada, that’s 10 pounds of garbage per day, a number that may be explained by the addition of tourists into the equation, says Lee Dazey. Dazey’s a Reno activist who recently helped start Cottonwood Circles, a study group devoted to learning more about living simply and sustainably.
“Our purpose is to think about whether our addiction to stuff is leading to happiness,” Dazey said.
Americans own 32 percent of the world’s cars. We send enough motor oil to landfills each year (180 million gallons) to equal 16 Exxon Valdez oil spills. One American uses as much energy as three Germans, 14 Chinese or 168 Bangladeshi.
The group sponsored Monday’s showing of the documentary, Affluenza. But as of Monday, the group hadn’t planned any special activities for Buy Nothing Day in Reno. Dazey said that she’d rather focus on a changed lifestyle than on one day devoted to not shopping.
“Having one day a year we don’t shop is like going to church once a year,” she said. “[But I do] think it’s good that Adbusters plans this day for people to stop and think about their consumption.”
And Thanksgiving is the starting gun for the biggest shopping season of the year.
“From here until Christmas, when everyone returns their shit,” she said.