Dates for assembly

21st November 2003 at 00:00
November 29: Buy Nothing Day The Saturday following America's Thanksgiving Day (traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season in the US) is observed in many western countries as a day of protest against over-consumerism.

Outline script for assembly leader Earlier this year, a London chef created a caviar salad which sold at pound;634 per portion. A champagne cocktail in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, costs pound;277.25. In Zimbabwe, old age pensioners have to live on 40p - a month.

The money we each have to spend varies enormously around the world.

Just 20 per cent of the world's population live in western developed countries (such as Britain) but we buy up 80 per cent of the world's resources - food, fuel, oil and so on. As a protest against this unfairness, many people are marking Friday November 29 as a day on which they try to buy nothing at all or spend only what they really must.

Supporters of the day say we are consuming the planet to death, creating global warming, ozone holes and toxic waste dumps. They say we are "consumer pigs crowding the rest of the world out of the feeding trough" - and that we do most damage in the weeks before Christmas. Their slogan is "Enough is enough": we should buy or consume only what we really need - Buy Nothing Day should be a time to "switch off from shopping". If that's not possible, they ask us to think about how we spend our money and to support local independent shops. It is a day to live more simply, spending time with family and friends rather than spending money on them.

Follow-up

* List the things a family normally spends money on each day (eg food, gas, electricity, bus fares).

* Could your family go for a whole day without spending any money? What do you spend that isn't necessary (eg mobile phone calls, sweets, toys)?

* Discuss how tv commercials and other advertisements make us want to buy things we don't need.

* Make something that you normally buy, such as a loaf of bread or a Christmas present.

* Organise a poster competition to see which group can come up with the best idea for promoting non-consumerism.

The official UK "Buy Nothing Day" website is at www.buynothingday.co.uk

while www.buynothingday.co.uk101 suggests 101 things people can do instead of spending money. (Warning: three are sexual.) Students could make their own list.

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