Consumed with gu
Christmas shopping this year could cost you the earth. But anti- consumerism is coming to the high street to persuade us to mend our ways. Words: Claire Prentice
IT’S SATURDAY AFTERNOON and the high street is teeming with people in search of that quick~fix designer top or dream frock.
But not on Saturday 29 November if the organisers of No Shop Day get their way. Intended to highlight the perils of our shop-till-you-drop society, the six- year-old international campaign is growing at a rate of knots comparable with your favourite chain store. This year sees Friends of the Earth jumping on board with at least 60 other UK organisations, providing all manner of madcappery to divert us from the spend, spend,spend...
Originating in Canada under the banner of Buy Nothing Day, the campaign now exists in various guises throughout the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. But a bunch of bible-bashers or dyed-in-the-wool extremists they ain’t.
'lt’s about highlighting the very real problem of consumerism — but through fun activities rather than a dull polemic,’ said Paul Fitzgerald of Enough, the Manchester-based anti-consumerism group organising the UK arm of NSD. ’Twenty per cent of the world's population are consuming 80% of the world’s natural resources, and we're basically saying we can’t continue having this high-energy, high- pollution, throw-away lifestyle — we have to consider the economic, environmental and social effects it has
‘Young people are all persuaded by the ads are and articles in magazines, so they end up buying the same stuff — they just buy a different shade of the same retro trainers.’
Steve Miles, Plymouth University
on other people across the globe.’
Events planned throughout the UK include street theatre, ’useless product awards’, ’bring and take stalls’ and ’shopping free zones’, where campaigners slob about on couches in the midst of crazed shopping thoroughfares. Lang Banks of Friends of the Earth (Scotland) is confident they’ll get the point across. ’People won’t be able to keep their heads
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down and avoid thinking about the issues with these events going on all around them.’
Meanwhile, Fife-based fair trade shop Hundredth Monkey are poised to step up their contribution, ‘de- emphasising' selling with a host of displays, video campaigns and street activity. ’It went down really well last year,’ said Matthew Herbert of the workers’ co-op. ’But I think people were a bit freaked out when we offered them a seat and a cup of tea in the middle of the Christmas shopping frenzy.’ Owners of
the Glasgow shop Farenheit 451 again showing their commitment, as are social and environmental group Fife Earth First!
And, with the consumer boom that is the ’season of goodwill’ fast taking hold, a series of weekly lectures on Consumerism and Sustainability, organised by the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh, coincides with NSD action.
Plymouth University Sociology lecturer Steve Miles presents a talk entitled Are Young People Getting Their Identities From ’Stuff’?. He claims retailers exploit young people’s fears over the instability of life in the 905. ' 'Stuff’ gives them a common language and bond which provides that element of stability by
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Fife activists: ‘people were a bit freaked out'
enabling them to form personal identities and relationships’, he said.
However, he says the feeling of ’identity’ is illusory: 'They think of themselves as individuals, but young people are all persuaded by the ads and articles in magazines, so they end up buying the same stuff - they just buy a different shade of the same retro trainers.’
Though Miles is glad NSD is raising awareness, he remains sceptical about its impact. ’It’s a good idea, but there’s an inevitability about the growth of consumerism and an event like this isn’t going to change the way people think and live their lives.’
Fitzgerald, who will also be appearing in the series, discussing What’s Need, What’s Greed?, remains more optimistic. ’The majority of parents are getting hacked off with having to fork out a fortune for the latest trainers or new Christmas fad,’ he said. 'It’s about time we rejected all this bullshit we’re sold by advertisers.’ It’s called willpower folks.
For information on No Shop Day events taking place near you, contact Enough on 0161 226 6668. Centre for Human Ecology Autumn Lecture Series takes place every Tuesday at 6.30pm, at the Friends Meeting House, Victoria Terrace. Edinburgh. Call 0131 624 1972 for more details.
And ﬁnally. . . foreignjustice in
IT MUST BE something in the British psyche. Whenever one of our citizens is seen to be at the mercy of justice, Johnny Foreigner style, the verdict must surely be wrong. From the nurses in Saudi to the Louise Woodward verdict, the brutality of an inhuman system is held up, presumably in order to focus on the flawless nature of British justice. But consider the speed with which a rethink on Woodward's culpability was undertaken - three days - to the time-scale of sussing out wrongheaded verdicts in Britain. For Derek Bentley, it’s only taken 44 years for him to get a sniff of
AND IF BRITISH justice is so hot, why .1952}- *’ ~ is there such a problem with trying
' the two Libyans suspected of causing the Lockerbie disaster in 1988? It seems logical to have the trial here considering the plane blew up over the Borders town. However, having crossed swords with Tony Blair over the issue, Nelson Mandela, who knows a bit about unfair legal systems, huggered down with Muammar Gaddafi to look for a solution. Gaddafi is not keen on letting his 'sons' be handed over into western hands. Perhaps he thinks media coverage will be one-
Saughton Jail's music workshop has had the Sunday Mail throbbing with fury as it condemned plans to release a demo tape entitled Looking For Utopia. The paper was so horrified, it plugged the band with a nice big front page splash.
A CAMPAIGN FOR doggy justice may be the next high-profile tabloid rant. Edinburgh councillors are set to ban our best mates from public parks due to fouling. Which leaves open the question of where owners are supposed to take their canine for a bit of exercise. Renegade owners will be flocking to the select few areas where walking will still be permitted.
posthumous pardonry while any number of Irish folks will tell you that a decade or two of twiddling your thumbs in a British cell is no fun.
Injustice on screen: Derek Bentley as portrayed in the cinema
lF RONNIE BIGGS ever finds a quiet corner in a British cell, perhaps he should consider penning a duet with media hate figure Myra Hindley. The case of three killers who met at
Presumably offenders will get their collars felt. At least if they end up doing chokey, they can be confident our kennels are the world's best. (Brian Donaldson)
7—20 Nov I997 THE lIST23