Published by Enough - the Anti-Consumerism CampaignIdeas for Action
Anticonsumer acions are traditionally taken on 'No Shop Day' or 'Buy Nothing Day' (the American name for the day) which is usually the last Saturday in November... just in time for the consumer binge!
Set one of these up in the busiest shopping area near you. It can consist of an 'outdoor lounge' - sofas, table, carpet, rug, standard lamp etc, etc. Filled with people with their slippered feet up, surrounded by frantic shoppers, this makes for an intriguing sight. This worked very well for the Manchester group in 1994. Other versions could involve a marked off area within which participants play chess, repair clothes, read books, paint, chat, anything that isn't shopping, in fact.
To mark the day in Canada, the Media Foundation (renowned publishers of AdBusters magazine) aired one of their TV uncommercials during the CNN headline news, pointing out with the aid of an animated pig the excesses of US consumption.This ended with a provocative line of dialogue: "Nothing is destroying this planet faster than the way we North Americans live."
It provoked an angry response from one (only one? - Ed.) of the viewers who rang the toll-free telephone number given at the end. "You're a bunch of tree-hugging freaks," said one, "Advertising is the American Way."
This year the Media Foundation wants to broadcast a similar ad in the capitals of all the G7 nations along with a full page ad in the New York Times.
In Sheffield, New Roots, an alternative shop, ran a very successful NO SHOP DAY window display.
In 1995 activists in the Netherlands from Omslag (the nearest in English is breaking point) marked the day by occupying a shopping centre dressed as stressed-out rodents, urging people to leave the rat race. Out of this came an hour long radio interview.
In New York activists set up a stall in a nearby shopping mall and 'sold' designer trainers to planted 'stooge' customers - charging only as much as an exploited overseas labourer would earn for making a pair.
Create your own rat-race. Build a simple square maze inside which people can walk. At each corner are arrowed commands saying Happiness is just around the corner! --> Beneath each of these are the slogans: i) WORK HARDER ii) EARN MORE MONEY iii) BUY MORE THINGS iv) KEEP GOING or perhaps: i) WORK ii)BUY iii)CONSUME iv) DIE. Why not decorate the remaining wall space with advertisements? Real ones. It doesn't even have to be a maze: a simple four-sided display around which people can walk will probably do just as well. Hold a T.Y.N.K.Y.N. award ceremony. A tynkyn is a completely useless genuine consumer item, a Thing You Never Knew You Needed, such as electric shoe polishers, plastic aerobic steps, a boxed charades game and so on. Get a tame celebrity, or perhaps even a spoof celebrity to award the prize. The media will love this.
A few of the things that have gone on over the years:
In 1994 an Aberdeen group set up a market stall selling Happiness at 5 pounds a portion - in reality, empty paper bags.
In 1995 the Manchester group took this one stage further and launched our own soft drink - HAPPINESS(tm) - now in cans!!! Complete with 'product shots' and our own slick audio commercial, we sent this to the national media and got a strong response, including some fine live radio debates with frustrated, struggling advertising executives.
In 1996, New York activists set up a stall in a nearby shopping mall and 'sold' designer trainers to planted 'stooge' customers - charging only as much as an exploited overseas labourer would earn for making a pair.
In 1997 the London Group dressed as a cult and went arround worshiping at shop windows up and down Londons busyest shopping streets complete with a priest who gave sermons on 'salvation through consumerism' to the masses. There were even 'readings' from the 'innovations catalogue!
In 1998 while the Manchester group acted out the 'Christmas tree decoration liberation front', Aliens decended on Londons shoppers and gave out thousands of leaflets asking the earthling shoppers 'Are you happy?'