Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Redditch, London, York, Birmingham & Oxford (x2) Buy Nothing Day events

Manc Buy Nothing Day '06 #2
Manc Buy Nothing Day '06 #1
Saturday, 25th November 06: Buy Nothing Day, a day where you challenge yourself, friends and family to switch off from shopping and tune into life. This is how a group of colourful happy people celebrated Buy Nothing Day in Manchester UK.

Rhythms of Resistance Manchester, Aliens, singers and their lovely friends took over the city in a colourful celebration of Buy Nothing Day , that included:

A FREE MARKET with lots of books, clothes, tapes, dvds and toys. All for people to take away (free) to promote re-using items rather than binning and re-buying.

FLYERS: Aliens, sambistas, singers and students gave out flyers with information on Buy Nothing Day and reusing and recycling. Awareness was also raised regarding ethical shopping, asking people to think about the environmental damages that products may result to.

SAMBA: the samba band, Rhythms of Resistance Manchester, entertained hundreds of people with samba encouraging them to “Stop Buying Start Dancing�. The band was joined by singers and poets too! The sambistas entered the Triangle Shopping Centre, with a banner and flyers and full samba swing. The acoustics were great and the band sounded excellent – the security guards though pushed the sambistas out. The sambistas re-entered through the other door in clowning fluffy loving style. The tough security guards were liberated with samba rhythms, as they smiled to the fun of RORM!

GAMES: games were played in the shopping centres, reclaiming the space from a mad buying zombie area to a space of friendships, fun and positivity.The games engaged young people and shoppers too!

BANNER FLOAT (the action which was also known in code: “banner drops, they are so last year sweetie darling�!): A banner suspended by 28 helium balloons was released next to the Christmas tree in the Arndale Shopping Centre. The banner which simply stated “Buy Nothing Day� was admired by hundreds turning the shopping centre in a beautiful space! The banner float was accompanied by more flyering.

In summary it was a beautiful day… and remember kids:

Think ...
Only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth’s natural resources causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and distribution of wealth.
Buy locally sourced fresh organic produce
Say No to animal tested products
Fewer air miles – Stop Climate Change
Buy environmentally and ethically sound products.
Re-use and recycling.


Bath activists took to the streets on friday to celebrate 'buy nothing day'

On Friday, six members of Bath Activist Network visited some of the biggest, badest chain stores in Bath and hid anti-consumerist letters in books/items of clothing/crappy Xmas tack. The letters encouraged consumers to consider where their products were made, who made them and the environmental impact of making and transporting them. Consumers were also asked to consider what we could do with the spare time we would gain if we forsook recreational shopping and 40 hour working weeks. Several hundred leaflets were hidden in Gap, Disney store, waterstones, FCUK and loads of other shops in the town centre. The text of the leaflet should be up on the B.A.N website in the next couple of days.


Cruel Tesco Targetted for Buy Nothing Day

Freedom for 20 supermarket trolleys in Bristol

Last night a group of activists concerned for trolley welfare cut the fence at Tesco's bloody supermarket complex in Eastville.

Combining skin-tight planning with daring elan, the activists gained access to the perimeter and rounded up 20 scarred and batterd shopping trolleys.

These trolleys exist in the most appalling of conditions, forced day after day to shoulder the weight of capitalisms worse excesses, their backs literally broken by the wild eyed hoarding of crazed consumers.

To mark Buy Nothing Day, a plan was hatched to liberate these poor beasts of business burden, and slow down Tesco's profit machine in the process.

As soon as the gaggle of trolleys was herded close enough to the edge of the compound, a ramp was hastily erected and the trolleys were herded out, straight into the River Frome and freedom!

I am sure that their freedom wil be shortlived, and they will be soon returned to their captors, but for a few hours we were able to show them what life would be like if they no longer had to strain as the workhorses of an all-destroying profit machine!




Another five bite the (saw) dust

More billboards liberated across Bristol in honour of Buy Nothing Day

In the last few days, more billboards have been liberated across Bristol.

At least five have been torn down, from Easton to Bedminster. Many more have been altered or tampered with, rotating billboards have been disabled and lights have been well and truly put out.

In the run up to the consumer madness that is Chistmas, our skyline is littered with thousands of these monstrosities.

Adverts play on our hopes, fears and insecurities to serve just one purpose - to sell us products regardless of how much we really need them. In the run-up to Christmas they are all vying for a share of our hard-earned cash.

Kids have to have the shiniest, newest gadgets, the most up-to-date rip-off computer games, while teenagers are sold the latest line of sweatshop-made designer gear.

The admen realise that if we feel inadequate we’ll buy products to make us feel and look better. They use images of airbrushed models to reinforce gender stereotypes; to the adman you‘re only a woman if you’re stick-thin, have a big chest (if not you’ll need to buy a wonderbra), a pink mobile phone and covered in designer makeup. Likewise you are only a man if you are toned, tanned, wear Calvin Klein aftershave and Dolce & Gabbana and drive a bigger, faster car than other men.

One of the liberators said; "We are Bristol residents, sick of advertising hoardings making a mess of our streets, cluttering our skylines and blocking our views. Bristol residents have complained for years about these billboards, erected against our wishes but the Council won’t listen. We are taking non-violent direct action to tear down and remove unwanted billboards from our communities."

"Walk through the streets of Easton, St Paul’s, Bedminster and St Werburghs and you find hundreds of these monstrosities on every main road, selling us cars, beauty products, credit cards and soft drinks. But how many billboards do you see in Clifton where the ad execs live? They are happy to litter our communities with their vulgar images but they won’t have them in their own backyard."

As the Council continues to allow companies to erect billboards it continues to clamp down on “anti-social vandals� who spray “graffiti�. However often graffiti is the only option, the only way alienated individuals can express themselves in our society. What is commonly called “art� is in reality elitist, confined to sterile galleries which only display work from “artists� privileged enough to go through art school, only to be viewed by those who can afford it. The real vandals are the advertisers who erected these billboards without our permission, often without even planning permission.

The liberators urge everyone to take action to reclaim our visual space; "Wouldn’t it be better if instead of these ugly billboards our public space was used for art, for people to be able to express themselves with beautiful and challenging images, words and sculptures rather than for images aimed only at making more profits for fat cat shareholders? ...."

Redditch Buy Nothing Day '06
Buy Nothing Day in Redditch

As part of International Buy Nothing Day, members of Redditch Friends of the Earth held a `free shop` & leaflet stall in Redditch Town Centre on Saturday, the aim being to highlight the environmental & ethical consequences of consumerism, and also to encourage people to live more and work/spend less!!

5 members of Redditch FOE held a 3 hour stall where we gave away over 100 items(incl videos, toys, books, household stuff etc) to the general public(one item each person). We also handed out over 400 leaflets(see above) about BND, plus many more about Freecycle etc and copies of Redditch FOE`s latest newsletter.

We felt the day was a great success and 2 local papers printed great articles about the forthcoming event, in last weeks editions. This is the first time that a BND event has been staged in Redditch, but it won`t be the last!

Redditch FOE are part of the recently formed Redditch Alliance of Greens, set up to boost co-operation and support between local `green` goups, and to create more awareness of the good work we`re all involved in.

For more info see the following websites:
Buy Nothing Day
Redditch Alliance of Greens

London Buy Nothing Day '06 half price inside
London Buy Nothing Day '06 half price outside

Everything instore half price today!!!

For this year's Buy Nothing Day, the Hijackers decided to resurect one of our favourite projects. The Half Price Sale.

The plan is simplicity itself. Print up a bundle of "EVERYTHING INSTORE HALF PRICE TODAY" t-shirts, then wander into shops, tidy things up and watch chaos ensue.

A dozen Hijacker secret agents came along for the action, and visited Nike Town, Top Shop, HMV, Selfridges and others on the day. Nike as always were the least impressed with our antics, with a pack of over eager security guards ushering us out of the store within about 5 mins. Top Shop were far to vast to catch us, and totally confused by our actions.

assistant with clip board: what are you doing here.
Hijacker: just here to help
acb: where are you from.
Hijacker: I'm from London.
acb: no one told me you where coming(pause) why are you here
Hijacker: just here to help
acb: but your are not on the plan(leaves confused)
HMV were clear winners with a security guard exclaiming:
"You have to stop tidying things up, you're being illegal, you have to leave!"

to see more please visit:

York Buy Nothing Day '06 #1York Buy Nothing Day '06 #2
York Buy Nothing Day - report & pictures

International Buy Nothing Day came to York today. As only four people turned up our plans had to be scaled back a bit, so we didn't quite manage to overthrow the corrupt capitalist system (mebbe next year, eh?!).

Instead, we set up a free fair-trade coffee stall outside Starbucks on Coney Street, and made life a little bit easier for their corporate accountants.

In an hour and a half, over 150 cups of tea and coffee were dished out to slightly bemused passers by. Some wanted to know what the catch was, some asked if we were connected with the church ("definitely not!" was the resounding reply), and one person even tried to give us a donation ("definitely not!" was the resounding reply!).

A fair few people stopped and talked at length, and some promised not to buy anything for the rest of the day.

A gang of enthusiastic teenage girls kindly held our 'Buy Nothing Day' banner and advertised our wares for 45 minutes.

Two friendly coppers walked past, but unfortunately couldn't be tempted to free drinks, and just as we were winding up, someone from the council came along to tell us 'the rules' about stalls in town. He told us that we needed permission to hold a stall, and gave us a form to be completed for next time. He was very pleasant about it and was happy for us to carry on for another 15 minutes (we'd run out of everything by then anyway, so we agreed), but we couldn’t persuade him to take a free coffee. In all the excitement, the form appears to have been lost, so it looks like our next event will have to be 'unauthorised' as well. . . . . .

After the coffee stall had been wound-up, a couple of activists had some “fun� on the escalators in Marks and Spencers - until they were asked to leave by security.

So, that's it for this year. We didn't change the world, or stop much shopping, but we diverted a small amount of cash from Starbucks' coffers, had a lot of fun giving stuff away and put smiles on peoples’ faces!

Birmingham Buy Nothing Day '06 #1Birmingham Buy Nothing Day '06 #2
Birmingham's Contribution to Buy Nothing Day 2006

A great success with protest Santas, FreeShop, repetitive beats, Guantanamo Bay Campaign, and Food Not Bombs coming together attracting and creating a vibrant street event.

Buy Nothing Day has been celebrated in Birmingham for a few years now, initially by Birmingham Friends of the Earth's anti-consumer info-stalls and Santa Claus demonstrations. Last year, in addition, autonomous events were staged: in-store pranks and games, Food Not Bombs, and a Free Shop.

This year the anti-consumerist protest Santas were back, as were Food Not Bombs, who serve free food in town fortnightly. The Guantanamo Bay campaign was present raising awareness, a fantastic portable sound system turned up, and the Free Shop returned. All these groups came together to make the event what it was, attracting a strong crowd and creating a busy, vibrant street party.

Why Free Shops?
It has long been recognised that capitalism is over-productive of goods, and that our consumer culture produces a very wasteful society.

A free shop is a shop where we exchange goods without a pricing system: unwanted items are donated and wanted items taken away.

'Junk belongs to us, the people. It does not belong to councils, shires, governments or contractors'. Freeshops promote direct recycling and re-use of goods, locally, and in a way that answers immediate need.

Freeshops 'have their roots in the anarchist movement' and are well established in Northern Europe and in the USA. There are always temporary freeshops too, and a monthly freeshop has been running in Norwich since 2004. Internet freeshops have given new life to the movement through the online 'FreeCycle' community [see].

Occasionally, FreeShops can be stolen. This happened to a freeshop in Whitechapel in 2002. Such incidents fortunately are rare; because no money changes hands and no one makes an unfair profit, freeshops don't encourage criminal activity, unlike those other kinds of shops.

Any of us can start a freeshop. This reporter would like to see it become a regular event, with people swapping goods in town as a more sustainable challenge to the consumer culture of Birmingham City Centre.

An organiser commented on last Saturday's event

"Today has been a huge success. Almost all of the stock from the shop has been taken away by the shoppers of Birmingham. Along with this they've hopefully taken away a new way of looking at consumer habits in this country. People visiting the stall have been very enthusiastic about what we're doing; some individuals were very enthusiastic about getting involved themselves so there may be more than one Free Shop at the next Buy Nothing Day. Everything which we gave away today has been saved from being sent to the local incinerator and all of the stock was hauled into the city centre in a small bicycle convoy. Having music at the event really got people interested and made the afternoon feel like an event worth elebrating".

Food Not Bombs returned after a 2 month break to serve reclaimed food to the hungry and campaign against poverty, rubbish food, homelessness and militarism. The group strengthened it's commmitment to using non-aluminium cookware, featured innovative new recipes, an improved information shop, and was greatly energised by new people. Three Food Not Bombs first-timers took part, with one commenting that FNB was the 'one of the most positive political experiences' she had had in years of campaigning experience. 'The group's ability to communicate and organise made for a great team experience,' she said. 'We all were so positive and supported each other. It felt like a proper team effort which was fantastic and I want people to know about that'. As usual the food was enthusiastically consumed and information on local and global issues distributed. The collective ended the day with a social and met again the following Tuesday for a review meeting and to plan future actions.

Food Not Bombs will be back Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th December (as part of the vigil for Human Rights Day), and there is a meeting to plan this on Tuesday 5th; social events are also in the works. Email for more information.

For more on the freeshop movement check

All in all it was an exciting event that brought a vibrant and political street culture to Birmingham, and showed how different groups can collaborate to strengthen the movement's range and appeal - here's to many more of these kinds of events.


Oxford Buy Nothing Day '06 #2
Oxford Buy Nothing Day '06 #1
Oxford Shoppers Left Bemused By Consumer Cult

The Rev. E. Littlehelps, Lord High Purchaser of the Cult of Consumerism, explains in his own words what happened when a group of activists pretending to be corporation-worshippers descended on Oxford City Centre for International Buy Nothing Day.

Thought For The (Buy Nothing) Day
By Rev. E. Littlehelps

It was half past ten in the morning, on Saturday November 25th. The skies over Oxford City Centre were grey as I waited outside the Temple of St. Clarendon (known to the uninitiated simply as “The Clarendon Centre�), pulling my robes tightly around me. The morning was chill, but I was filled with a fiery purpose. Today was “Buy Nothing Day�, a false festival created by infidels in an attempt to discredit the holy corporate brands; it was our sacred mission to counter their foul sacrilege by preaching the Good Word of The Holy Multinationals to all who would listen. Glorious work, my children. Glorious work.

Some loose-mouthed folk call us the Cult of Consumerism; we know ourselves as the iPostles, and work for the greater good of our wondrous corporate pantheon and all of their noble profits.

As my brothers and sisters assembled around me, my heart soared in anticipation of the great work before us. All five of the Inner Circle were there: Sister Bucks, Preacher Bright, Padre Station, Sister Swoosh and Apostle Macintosh. We began our first incantation (“Shop, Shop, Till You Drop�), to cleanse ourselves of any impure, non-consumer thoughts, and strode boldly out onto the consecrated ground of the Cornmarket pedestrianised shopping precinct.

So many brands, all around us, already glowing neon in the weak morning light! So many small but perfect chapels to consumerism, where even at this hour worshippers were flocking to make their offerings! The rapture was soon upon us, and we began to prostrate ourselves before each gleaming altar, crying our praises to the skies.

Sing praise to McDonalds! We worship you, St Ronald, and your wondrous power, the power to transform rainforests into obese children. All hail Starbucks, and the Sacred Business Model – we marvel at your ability to pay coffee growers 40p for a pound of coffee, keeping them poverty-stricken and fully in your thrall, whilst selling lattes for £4 a cup! All hail Vodafone – we thank you for selling us a new phone every six months when the old one still works, and thus stripping away the planet’s resources and fuelling wars over rare minerals, all in your glory! All hail!

Truly, as Apostle Macintosh observed, the profits were speaking through us. And o, most wondrous thing, in front of The Disney Store (all praise the sparkly corporate plastic tat, made by children for children), that same good brother was suddenly filled with the spirit of Mickey Mouse, and began to speak in high-pitched tongues, to our utter delight and wonder!

At Westgate Cathedral we beheld façade upon glorious façade, begging us to consume the whole planet piece by shrink-wrapped piece. We had barely begun our worship outside the Church of Sony (“all hail stand-by mode!�), when one of the guardians of the temple, jealous of any favour we might be winning from our shared corporate deities, escorted us firmly from the premises – but we were undeterred, and showed our defiance with a spontaneous chanting and rapping medley outside the temple gates. Mallelujah!
We threw ourselves as humble supplicants before Gap, singing praise to the enormous gap between the wages of the sweatshop workers and their high street prices. We wept tears of gratitude before the sign of the holy Virgin, thanking St Branson for solving climate change by telling us all to fly more. Outside Argos, we invoked the words of the great theologian Sir William of Bailey, and gave praise to the Laminated Book of Dreams, sheathed in sacred plastic to catch the tears of joy from those who stand in awe before it. Help us, Argos! We need a pink Playboy liquid lamp! A plastic flamingo to sit beside our Golfing Gnomes! My toaster is the wrong colour, Argos – surely you hold the key to my salvation within the Mysterious Dungeon of Plenty?

As the day progressed, many crowds of onlookers gathered around us, drawn by the truth of our words. Many of them seemed strangely gripped by fits of laughter, doubtless overcome by joy at the thought of the blessed corporations pervading every aspect of our lives; others followed us, shouting out suggestions for where we should worship next. Great multitudes beheld our ceremonies, and many hundreds of pamphlets were handed out to the curious congregation. It was only after the event that we realised that a terrible error had occurred, and we had somehow been distributing a blasphemous Buy Nothing Day “Anti-Catalogue�, which warned people of the supposed dangers of excessive consumption, and encouraged them to shop less and live more, even going so far as to suggest a number of “fun� and “free� things that people could do instead of consuming.

Despite this dreadful oversight, as dusk fell over the city we decided that our work had been well done, and returned to our individual homelife consumption modules with a sense of deep and blessed satisfaction.
Rest assured, people of Oxford, we shall return in good time to deliver more sacred shopping sermons. Unless, of course, those accursed Corporate Plunder Pirates get there first and steal our thunder.

WTO-approved blessings to you all,
The Rev. E Littlehelps

"And behold the splendour of KFC, and the miraculous buckets of greasy fried gunk. Yea, for the rainforests are an abomination unto the Most Righteous Colonel Saint Sanders, and must be torn down to make way for the bounteous fields of chicken feed, to fatten the birds in the Holy Cages of Wonder. Thus we may all share the glorious bounty of the Family Special Offer Boneless Box. Rejoice!"

For an electronic copy of the Anti-Catalogue, email dannychivers [at]

Buy Nothing Day '06 stickers 1
Buy Nothing Day '06 stickers 2
Buy Nothing Day '06 stickers 3

"Put me down! I won't bring you happiness" More Buy Nothing Day Pixie-ing

A merry band of Oxford pixies full of the joys of the season visited many, many shops - including Miss Selfridges, Topshop, Gap, HMV and Dixons - placing thought-provoking stickers in dressing rooms and on products.

Why did these pesky pixies make life difficult for the staff who then had to peel the labels off? Well, read on and discover why some the aforementioned places were targeted.

***About Arcadia Group (owns Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Evans, Outfit)***

Arcadia Group is owned by billionaire Philip Green. In 2005, Arcadia's profits "rose to £326 million in the 52 weeks to 27th August 2005...As a reward, Arcadia shelled out a £1.3bn dividend to its shareholders, £1.2bn of which went to Green, already the UK’s fifth richest person."[1] However whilst this was already well and good for Green and Arcadia shareholders it was a different story for the workers who produced the tacky t-shirts for Topshop and their ilk. In a factory in Cambodia in 2004, after over 1000 workers went on strike to protest against poor pay, "19 union leaders and 120 union workers were fired"[2].

In conclusion: not Green by nature at all.

***About Dixons (sister groups: Currys Digital, PC World)***

In 2003, Dixons, who mainly stock electrical equipment (hi-fis, vacuum cleaners, iPods etc) announced a partnership with 'support services firm' Capita to manage one of Dixons' call centres. Uh oh - bad move - as Capita is probably best know for its mismanagement of the Criminal Records Bureau: after failing to check teachers' records on time the company was eventually fined £2 million; small change really from the £400 million budget it received from the government for the contract[3].
After the partnership deal was clinched, Capita went on to sack staff at the Sheffield based call centre[4].

Dixons dealing with the Conservatives, environmental reporting and tax avoidance has also been criticised by many in the past. In a report in 2001, Friends of the Earth found that Dixons was a business backer of the Conservative Party; it also short-listed the store as "as [a] possible targets for a major consumer campaign over 'dodgy' chemicals."[5] FOE also found that the company had no formal policies on conduct on overseas labour standards. Dixons has also been accused of using their subsidiary, Dixons Insrance Services ltd registered in the Isle of Man as a tax haven[6].

Finally, at the beginning of this year, Which? magazine had found Dixons to be one of the worst retailers in Britain.[7]

All this is before we even go into the environmental devastation involved in producing some of the merchandise that Dixons sells!
Most of the above information was from Labour Behind the Label, the campaign that supports garment workers' efforts worldwide to improve their working conditions.
Be warned. The Pixies may strike again...

[1] 'Arcadia: the high street of exploitation - November 2005 Update', Labour behinid the Label, viewed 30/11/06

[2] Ibid

[3] Sean O'Neill & Stewart Tendler, 'Blunder on criminal records was revealed a year ago', The Times, 22/05/06

[4] Tim Richardson, (29/04/04) 'Ex-Dixons staff '"kicked in the teeth"', The Register, viewed 30/11/06

[5] 'UK Democracy Plc How the corporate juggernaut is crushing our democracy', Friends of the Earth briefing, December 2001, viewed 30/11/06

[6] From 'UK Democracy Plc How the corporate juggernaut is crushing our democracy'
and 'Company information: Dixons', Ethiscore, viewed 30/11/06

[7] 'Shoppers snub Dixons and Powerhouse', Which? 31/01/06, viewed 30/11/06