Adbusters Media Foundation

Adbusters Media Foundation

December 19, 2006 09:00 ET

Adbusters Media Foundation-Have Less, Live More: Buy Nothing Christmas

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 19, 2006) - RECLAIMING THE SEASON: Those of us who shiver at the thought of hour-long line-ups and $5 gift tags finally have something to rejoice about over the holidays: fed-up citizens and social activists from across the world are inviting everyone to take part in Buy Nothing Christmas.

Inspired by the international successes of Buy Nothing Day, and disgusted with the personal debt, spiritual emptiness, and ecological damage that the holiday season now entails, writers and activists began to heavily promote the idea of a downshifted Christmas in the late nineties. Since then, the idea has been taken up by individuals, community groups, churches, and schools in at least a dozen countries, with strongest support in Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Despite the name, the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It's about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype, the overcrowded malls, and the stressful to-do lists. It's about reminding ourselves to really think about what we're buying, why we're buying it, and whether we really need it at all.

"First and foremost, it's about restoring authenticity to one of the world's great religious and secular traditions," said Kalle Lasn, editor-in-chief of Adbusters magazine and long-time advocate of holiday restraint. "Christmas has been warped beyond recognition by commercial forces. It's about time we took it back."

Most participants will still exchange gifts, but will opt for recycled, homemade, locally produced, or fair-trade items. Some will excuse themselves from gift-giving altogether, and focus instead on valuable time with family and friends, on charitable works, and on rediscovering older, non-commercial holiday traditions as they also invent a few new ones.

Throughout the month of December, activism-minded participants will be taking two of these new traditions to their local malls and commercial districts. Groups of meditating Santas - dubbed "Zenta Clauses" - are offering stressed-out shoppers free soup, coffee, and a place to rest their aching feet as they take a break from buying. This year, they'll be joined for the first time by slow-moving activists in robes and Jesus masks, who will be asking their fellow shoppers one all-important question: "What would Jesus buy?"

Editor's Notes

(1) For more information on Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day, and Buy Nothing Christmas, and to read comments submitted by hundreds of people on how they are going to reduce their holiday consumption, visit www.adbusters.org.

(2) For a Christian perspective on the idea, and for tips on how to celebrate a Buy Nothing Christmas, visit www.buynothingchristmas.org.

(3) Shopping and consumption facts:

- Consumer polls from the last several years peg the per capita holiday spending average in the U.S. at around $800 - $1000, with consumer debt growing twice as fast as wages.

- Annual per capita consumption in the U.S. has risen 45 per cent in the last 20 years.

- Although people today are, on average, four-and-a-half times richer than our great-grandparents were at the turn of the century, Americans report feeling "significantly less well off" than in 1958.

- A 2003 article in New Scientist featured research suggesting that the more consumer goods you have the more you think you need to make you happy. Happiness through consumption is always out of reach (New Scientist, 4th October 2003, Vol.180, Issue 2415, p44. Available online after registering at www.newscientist.co.uk).

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