Friday, December 28, 2007

EYFA News 12.07


EYFA newsletter is a tool to spread information on campaigns, actions,
meetings and convergence happening around Europe and beyond. Info is
forwarded to our network e-list and to network partners and contacts.
Please send us info if you have news to be spread.

NOTE: After the summer we started with thematic newsletters and
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September and November Newsletters). Or you can check out the version
below (without 'hyperlinks'):
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.on Over-Consumerism

(Buy Nothing) Christmas greetings from the EYFA office! As another
'biggest ever' Christmas forcefully approaches, and Santa's Sleigh seems
to have been replaced by giant container ships from China bringing
tonnes of throwaway pleasures, the December newsletter is about

1. An Introduction...
2. Buy Nothing Day, 24th November 2007
3. Advertising
4. Over-packaging
5. A bitter taste
6. True Cost...
7. ...True Price
8. Buy Nothing Christmas
9. Further Links

1. An introduction...
Consumerism is the achievement of personal happiness from the purchasing
of material possessions and consumption. However, the truth is that
consumerism is a pattern of behaviour that supports exploitation of
people, destroys the environment, badly affects personal health, and
decreases leisure time, creativity and critical thinking. Consumerism is
an expression of capitalism, which tries to turn everything in life into
objects and services that are sold for the purpose of generating profit
- commercialization, where the value of everything, including such
intangible things as happiness, health and beauty become measured in
commercial and materialistic terms. Consumerism is driven by the
commercialization and consumer capitalism that manipulates consumer
demand in a deliberate and coordinated way through mass-marketing that
results in an overload of information and confusion about what you
really need and spreads misinformation about consumer goods and
services. In this issue we would like to point out some of the examples
of anti-consumerism activities in Europe and give you a hint of what's
behind consumerism.

2. Buy Nothing Day
The start of the Christmas over-shopping season, the most intense
consumer period of the year, was marked at the end of November by Buy
Nothing Day, with a slogan SHOP LESS - LIVE MORE.
In pre-industrialist times, "shopping" did not exist and consumerism was
based on necessity, though necessity in a different way to how we see it
today. Nowadays, we buy things we don't really need and won't use. Now,
what we believe to 'need' can also cover products to make our busy lives
survivable and pleasant; energy guzzling labour saving devices,
over-packaged convenience food, and so-called retail therapy. These
short-term solutions are a direct cause of a long-term problem. What we
need, in terms of making environmentally correct choices, can be a
confusing issue. Simply replacing all our household utilities and goods
with ethical or energy-saving alternatives can not only cause extra
consumerism, but create more waste from disposing of working objects.
Despite it's title, Buy Nothing Day carries a longer term message of
responsible consumerism. By not shopping for one day, we can realize the
unnecessary time we use, recognize it in the future, and make changes to
spend our time doing other things (whilst saving resources and money). (also contains international links)

In Berlin,and many other cities, Zombie Shoppers challenged the 'real'
shoppers' perception of themselves. See a video of the action here:

In the UK, Fat Cats spread promises of future happiness, and Space
Hijackers went into stores to spread publicize false offers. More
information about these actions, and more, can be found here:

3. Advertising
Advertising is becoming more and more aggressive and impossible to
escape. At this time of year, it is directly aimed at the young,
encouraging the feeling of 'want' rather than 'need' at an early age.
Companies employ so-called trend researchers (or cool-hunters) to help
them design their next product range. In recent years, these companies
have noticed that revolution can be very profitable. With anti-
globalisation being one hot topic, the big companies have discovered
they can cash in on the movement working against them by advertising
their products as subversive and rebellious against issues.
[Tired of advertisements, trends, misinterpretation, misuse and abuse of
space and culture? Keep on spoofing, do it yourself, share, recycle,
cycle, reclaim, rewrite, redraw, redo, redesign, reprogram, hijack...]

A 'chase the logo' game is available on the Space Hijackers web-site,, though we should warn
you... rushing to follow the brands can only result in a quick end for a
lot of sheep! More games on

4. Over-packaging – The Plastic Battle
Friends of the Earth have just announced the winners of their 'One
Minute with Meaning' short film competition with the theme of 'how we
use our planet like there is a tomorrow'. The chosen film looked at the
issue of over-packaging, which (along with the obvious drain on
resources) is designed to encourage impulse buying, and is undeniably
responsible for the resultant additional waste. The film shows the
inaccessibility, pointlessness and sheer excessiveness of packaging
designed with only quantity of sales in mind.

5. A bitter taste
Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base and
exacerbates inequalities. Sandwiches wrapped in aluminium foil –
devastated landscapes in the north of Brazil. Meat between the bread –
comes from animals fed on soy that caused social and environmental
desertification in Argentina and Paraguay. The water – needed for meat
breeding per animal per day is ten times what a normal Indian family use
in one day. In the current industrialized system, for every kilo of red
meat, poultry, eggs, and milk produced – farm fields lose couple of
kilos of irreplaceable top soil. Cheap chocolate in Europe – made of
cacao picked by (often slave) child labour on cocoa plantations on the
Ivory Coast. Bananas from Latin America and the Caribbean – associated
with rainforest and community destruction. But meat, chocolate and
bananas are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of examples of negative
effects of the current consumption patters. A lot of the food produced
in poorer countries are grown not to feed local people and meet their
demands, but to be exported to cities around the world, especially in
Europe and North America. This leaves rural communities in poverty and
degrades their environment. If knowing all this results in a bitter
taste - Eat vegan, local, unpackaged, and organic!

A chocolate link:
A banana link:

6.True cost...
It is obvious that there is no such thing as a low cost- the price is
paid for a bargain somewhere along the production line. Exploitation of
workers, toxic or non-recyclable materials, and miles of trans-
portation may lower the cost to consumers, but the injustice and
consequences they cause come at a much higher non-retail price. Not to
mention that if quantity produced exceeds demand (as often happens),
though shop prices fall further, much goes to waste.

Campaigners from the Clean Clothes Campaign and India Committee of the
Netherlands trying to expose the exploitation of workers at the Fibres
and Fabrics International (FFI) jeans factory in India now face an
international arrest warrant,together with the director of their
Internet service provider. Dutch Jeans company G-Star was the last
remaining customer of FFI until they finally gave in to public protest
on the 6th December and withdrew their contract. However, the gagging
order and arrest warrant on campaigners remains, preventing the truth
about labour practices from becoming public. See for more info on this

7. ...True price
Post-purchase damage can be ignored just as easily as pre-retail
exploitation. Though worth of items usually go down after purchase and
use, the Adbusters project 'True cost economics' looks at how the retail
prices of commonly used good and services would be affected if they
included consequential damage caused by things such as transit hours,
taxes and insurance claims.

With current exchange rates against the dollar being so favourable to
Europeans, the amount of trans-Atlantic flights being made in the name
of Christmas shopping will surely rise... and the levels of our ocean
will follow. On the Global Footprint Network web page, the statistics of
our pressure on the earth are made visualized in graphs. Our global
footprint is already larger than the planet itself, and with growing
consumerism being at the root of the majority, if not all of our
environmental problems, it is set to grow at an increasingly alarming
rate until we can not survive at all.

8. Buy Nothing Christmas
Christmas is at the height of all consumerist badness; paper use for
cards and wrapping goes up by 25%, demand for cheap products fuels
unethical labour standards in factories, travel and transit involved in
shopping produces even more fumes and pollution, and products are likely
to be over-packaged to emphasize size and expense. Buy Nothing Christmas
is a campaign which challenges people to reconsider the importance of
money and superfluous spending. Though it may come as a shock to
so-called 'traditionalists' who see the extravagance as an essential
part of festivities, Buy Nothing Christmas does not propose to eliminate
the joy of giving, or (because it is originally a Christian-founded
campaign,) to ignore the festival. The idea is merely to look at
alternatives to the media-encouraged greed; more truly beneficial or
homemade gifts, thinking of different ways of packaging, and avoiding
the lazy 'who cares, it's Christmas' attitude to waste.

Links for a Buy Nothing Christmas:

The Dutch website draws attention to the easily
forgotten increased use of animal products at this time of year. Part of
the CIWF - Compassion in World Farming- they draw attention to the link
between cruel farming practices, and demand for larger quantities of
cheap meat. See (Dutch) or (English)

9. Further recommended links (Please send us more!!):

Co znamená Freegan? -

“Solidaire Economie” -

Space Hijackers-
People and Planet-
Overcoming Consumerism -
Solidarity Economy -

Kaventajat -

L'association Résistance à l'Agression Publicitaire -
Brigade anti-publicitaire -
®TMark -
La Décroissance -

Freeganismo (Portuguese)-

lovek, ZBUDI SE! -

Qué es un freegan? -
®TMark Empresarios del desorden -

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Published electronically by EYFA.
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