This Saturday a parade of Santas descended on Birmingham's busy shopping district to promote a message of less is more and celebrate annual Buy Nothing Day.
This is the seventh year when the Santas have paraded in Birmingham and Buy Nothing Day is now a truly global event being celebrated from New Zealand to Norway and from Poland to the Philippines.There was some debate about whether the message would be as well received this year and whether we should even go ahead with it. In the end the Santas and their message were as well received as ever and the decision to carry on with the light-hearted slogans saying that buying isn't what makes you happy in these times of credit crunch and economic gloom was justified.
The current financial crisis should be an opportunity to re-examine what money is spent on and how resources are managed, but the government is trying to say that we should carry on with business as usual and just prop up the banks to enable people to build up more debt. Unsustainable consumption cycles of producing, selling and throwing away have not been mentioned nearly enough in the whole debate over the economic mess we are in. Christmas, especially this year, should not be about over-consumption, stress and debt, but about spending time with and thinking about your loved ones.
We're not anti-Christmas or anti-shops, we want to promote the use of small local businesses, and locally sourced or fair-trade products that don't contribute to damaging the world's ecosystems. Buy Nothing day was a great success again as we got our message out to thousands of people who may not normally have thought about these things and had fun while doing it.