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University of Leicester academic encourages day off from ‘out of control consumerism’

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University of Leicester academic encourages day off from ‘out of control consumerism’

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Environment

A University of Leicester academic is challenging her students to take part in an international day of protest against consumerism. As the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing, a consumption expert is championing Buy Nothing Day and encouraging critical thinking of shopping habits.

Buy Nothing Day, which this year takes place on Saturday 30 November, is an international movement that encourages shoppers to take a day off from consuming to think about what they’re buying, where it’s coming from and if they really need it.

Dr Smith Maguire, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Production and Consumption from the University of Leicester’s School of Management, said: “I can’t think of a better way to think about critical management than to ask my students to participate. Buy Nothing Day encourages us to step off the treadmill of consumption and think critically about what we consume, why we consume it, and why we might be consuming too much.”

Launched in Canada in 1992, Buy Nothing Day is an annual event that encourages participants to spend a day assessing their consumption habits. Falling on one of the busiest shopping days in the run up to the hyper consumption of the Christmas season, Buy Nothing Day also raises questions about the material culture we live in.

With much onus placed on buying presents rather than giving gifts during the festive season, Dr Smith Maguire blames our throwaway culture for overconsumption. Status anxiety encourages individuals to worry whether their phone is new enough, whether their t-shirt is new enough and whether they have a new outfit on their Facebook page.

Dr Smith Maguire explained: “The materialistic nature of society drives us towards renewing things that are otherwise perfectly good. We are also often not in control of our overconsumption, as is the case with packaging, and we may have limited access to sustainably-made goods. Buy Nothing Day challenges you to confront the fact that you feel you have no choice but to buy something, and invites you to think about the alternatives.

“It’s about mindful consumption rather than mindless shopping. You have to take a good long look at what it is you’re buying and why, and make a commitment to think more broadly about shifting your mentality away from short term to long term, from buying more to buying less, and from buying global and impersonal to buying local.”

Buy Nothing Day is an annual event, which this year is taking place in the UK on Saturday 30 November. It is hoped to encourage consumers to think critically about their purchasing habits all year round.

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