Reading comprehension Buy Nothing

Buy Nothing Day - Participate by not participating!

Lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and forget shopping.

Annually the last Saturday of November is Buy Nothing Day in the UK. It's a day when you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping. The rules are simple, for 24 hours you will detox from shopping and anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!

Everything we buy has an impact on the environment, Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. The developed countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage, and an unfair distribution of wealth.

As consumers we need to question the products we buy and challenge the companies who produce them. What are the true risks to the environment and developing countries? We all know recycling is OK for the environment, but consuming less is better and Buy Nothing Day is a great way to start.

People around the UK will make a pact with themselves to take a break from consumption as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!

Of course, Buy Nothing Day isn't about changing your lifestyle for just one day - we want it to be a lasting relationship with you consumer conscience - maybe a life changing experience? We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair. The supermarket or shopping mall might offer great choice, but this shouldn't be at the cost of the environment or developing countries.

Buy Nothing Day is a global stand off from consumerism - celebrated as a holiday by some and street party for others! It isn’t anti-Christmas, or anti-independent local shops and those who choose to take part are not scrooges.

Buy Nothing Day was started by Adbusters (a Vancouver based anti-consumerist magazine)  in the early 90's and has grown into an international event celebrated all over the world.

What is so bad about shopping? It’s not shopping in itself that’s so harmful, it’s what we buy. As consumers, we should question the products we buy and the companies who produce them.

The idea is to make people stop and think about what and how much they buy effects the environment and developing countries. Increasingly large companies use labour in developing countries to produce goods because it’s cheap and there aren’t the systems to protect workers like there are in the west.

 Environmental protection is a big issue for consumers who are constantly forced to buy unnecessary packaging waste that the big stores and supermarkets produce. Much of this waste is passed onto the consumer who has no choice at the point of purchase. Superbrands are the worst offenders offloading tonnes of pointless packaging onto consumers who are then trusted to recycle it. The challenge to supermarkets and big stores is to remove unnecessary packaging from their stores. The raw materials and production methods that are used to make so many of our goods have harmful side effects such as toxic waste, destruction of wild life, and wasted energy. The transport of food by air also contributes to pollution especially when much of the food can be produced here.

It’s your day - so get involved! Tell all your friends about Buy Nothing Day, put up posters and refuse to shop on this day. Literally, doing nothing is doing something! However, committing to consuming less is a start.

 It’s incredibly challenging to last 24 hours without spending any money. You’ll feel detoxed from shopping and realise how much it uses up your free time. For 24 hours you’ll get your life back and that’s a big achievement!

Buy Nothing Day isn’t about changing your lifestyle for just one day - it’s a lasting relationship - maybe a life changing experience! We aim to make Buy Nothing Day stick in your mind so you think about what you buy and the impact it has on the environment.



1) Who can participate in this “movement”?

2) What does Buy Nothing Day emphasize?

3) What proportion of the natural resources do developed countries consume?

4) What is a preferred way of protecting the environment according to the text?

5) What are the three main aims of the movement? (a, b, c)

6) Where does the ‘movement’ originate?

7) Why is it worth taking labour to developing countries? (a, b)

8) What is the challenge to supermarkets and big stores?

9) How can you help the success of Buy Nothing Day?

10) Is it easy not to shop for a day? (Yes or No)