Buy Nothing Day: A good cause for tough times

Consumerism
By IAN DONNIS  |  November 25, 2008

During the 11 previous years in which Buy Nothing Day has been staged in Rhode Island, there have been economic downturns and times when the national economy was humming.

This time around, obviously, is an extreme example of the former, so there are lots of reasons to donate or pick up a winter coat when the annual post-Thanksgiving event is held this Friday, November 28, from 10 am to 2 pm at five sites: on the State House lawn (rain/snow site: St. Patrick's School, 244 Smith St, Providence); the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center, 175 Main St, Pawtucket; St. Paul's Church, 12 West Marlborough St, Newport: and St. Francis Church, 114 High St, Wakefield (10 am to noon); and St. Ann's Arts and Culture Center in Woonsocket.

The Providence version of the international event began as a response to how Black Friday is typically "the busiest day in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season," organizers note. As in years past, "thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada."

More than 60 local co-sponsors are involved this year, including community organizations, places of worship, and civic and environmental groups.

Via e-mail, organizer Greg Gerritt writes, "The Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange seems to be a bit more visible each year, and I am getting more calls and emails about the event than ever before. People are cleaning out their closets and volunteering, but there are also calls asking, 'Where can I get a coat?' We expect that even with gas prices falling temporarily there are going to be a lot of cold people this winter, and coats are going to be important.

"Beyond filling that immediate need — getting winter coats into the hands of those who need them — we note that issues of global warming, the collapse of the world's fisheries, and the devastation of forests are reminding folks that we need to take better care of our planet, and that some of the economic problems we face this year are related to the ecological crisis that we also face," Gerritt continues.

"Family farmers around the world are being forced off their land, irrigation water is disappearing. Wall Street and [big corporations] get bailouts while thousands of people in our communities lose their homes. All of us who put together the Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange wish we could go out of business. We wish poverty and ecological destruction no longer existed, that no one needed food pantries or winter coats, that the climate was not being destroyed, that RI was not threatened by rising sea levels."

For more info, contact Gerritt at Gerritt@mindspring.com or Phil Edmonds at philwhistle@juno.com

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