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TIME TO CELEBRATE BUY NOTHING DAY

Where are all the people?

IN THIS AGE of open-all-hours retail stores and one-click Internet purchasing we are all prey to a new disease: shopping. If you find that you spend all your leisure time buying things, or planning to buy things, you may be becoming a "shopaholic".

"Hi, today is Buy Nothing Day."
photo: Jana Liptáková

IN THIS AGE of open-all-hours retail stores and one-click Internet purchasing we are all prey to a new disease: shopping. If you find that you spend all your leisure time buying things, or planning to buy things, you may be becoming a "shopaholic".

One thing you can do to stop yourself becoming a victim of consumerism is to take part in Buy Nothing Day.

This anti-shopping idea originated more than a decade ago in Canada. A graphic artist with The Georgia Straight newspaper, Ted Dave, got fed up with the coercive means advertisements imposed on people. "Everything around us is set to get you to buy things spontaneously. I thought it would be nice if we could take a break," he told the Canadian Press.

Dave chose the last Friday in November to be the Buy Nothing Day. That day is close to American Thanksgiving and kicks off the Christmas shopping fever. It is the time retailers rejoice over high profits.

Buy Nothing Day now takes place all over the world. In 1999 it also hit Slovakia when the non-profit organization Ži a Nechaj Žiť (Live and Let Live) formed a people's blockade in front of Tesco in Bratislava.

This year, for the first time, a Slovak shop joined in the battle against rampant consumerism.

On November 25 staff at Bratislava's Ekoobchod Živica, which sells organic products, greeted its customers with the news that "Today is Buy Nothing Day". Puzzled, they received an explanation and a receipt with philosophical quotes on the consumerist lifestyle. "There must be more to life than having everything," read a quote from author Maurice Sendak.

"We want to warn people that a man is not alive only by shopping," said the Živica' Petra Ďurišová, the project's coordinator. Her colleague, Erika Strapková, added: "I hope activities like these show people other values than the need to own."

The days when people strolled through forests or hiked in the countryside at weekends are fast disappearing. Ďurišová's father remembers them well. Today he wanders through nature alone. Everyone else is in the shops.


By Zuzana Habšudová

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