I’ve found myself frustrated this week. I’ve been reading a few different books from people who have done similar projects and it would seem that this period of frustration and exasperation is par for the course. So is other peoples dislike for the project. People will always have mixed opinons and feel the need to argue their point. That’s ok with me, that’s the beauty of free speech isn’t it? Some people seem to think I’m trying to make life more complicated than it needs to be. When actually what I’m doing is exactly the opposite.
When it comes to it’s essence this project is actually unbelievably simple. So simple in fact, it’s a bit radical. I see something I might want, a new t-shirt (my favourite is sporting two new holes) or something that I used to think we needed (a new water bottle perhaps? mine was swallowed by playgroup). Now I just buy none of it. We make do. Sometimes I carry an old plastic milk bottle with me for a few days as a water bottle. It’s not at all glamorous. It’s not going to win me any style awards… but it’s practical and it’s fine. What would I do with a style award anyway?
Now when I come to little road blocks I just look for the most simple answer. I was reading a few articles last week that talked about projects like this one as being meaningless and rife with middle class privilege. And whilst I certainly agree with the latter, the former I struggle with.
The Nothing New project certainly reeks of privilege. Of course it does. We live in a privileged country, full of privileged people who are constantly crying poor because they are spending money on stuff they don’t need. Underprivileged people don’t get the luxury of ‘choosing’ to not purchase anything, they just purchase nothing because they have no choice. But does that mean that this project and ones like it are meaningless?
No. I don’t think so.
I struggled (and still do struggle) with this idea for a few weeks. Does it mean nothing to take a stand against consumerism even though the consumer machine just keeps on turning without you in it? Is it a meaningless statement of belief? No. I don’t think so.
Imagine if we all stopped buying shit we don’t need just for the sake of buying it. Imagine if we all demanded that things things we DID buy were produced ethically like Pip from Meet Me at Mikes is doing with her ethical clothing project this year… Imagine the shift in the economy. Imagine the shift in the world. It’s a complex balance of economic viability and sustainability – but really as a concept it is radically simple. Stop buying shit you don’t need. Stop buying shit that isn’t produced ethically. Stop turning a blind eye because it’s ‘easier.’ Demand rights for workers on the other side of the world who are slaving away for barely enough money to eat to produce your shitty quality t-shirt that you are going to wear once and then lose at the back of your overflowing closet. Take a bit of responsibility for the part we all play in the crazy waste and damage that is happening across the globe…
Open your eyes for a moment and really look at the way that we live. Is it responsible? Is it sustainable? Is it really worth all the damage it’s causing? And then, even if just for a week… Just stop buying in to it.
It’s radically simple… and it definitely means something to me.