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These are the facts: Chain stores dominate our high streets. Adverts dominate our media. And brands dominate our culture – to the extent that owning the right products defines what it is to be normal. For some people this isn’t an issue – they shop for pleasure, they love the big brands, and they feel comfortable being sold to all day. I’m not one of those people. Well, not anymore. I’ll give you three reasons why:

1. Non-essential consumption is a root cause of the situation we find ourselves in today – the environment, the economy and popular culture are all affected by the drive towards consumer growth.

2. Consumerism doesn’t work – in that it’s supposed to make us happy. Not in any sustainable way. Shopping is like a drug – the instant high is fantastic, but it’s never enough.

3. We’re starting to lose the choice. There are millions of consumer choices on the shelves. But alternatives to consumerism isn’t one of them. It’s virtually impossible to live brand-free and be normal.

This website, my videos and my book document my struggle to live within a consumer culture, of which there is next to no escape.



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Buy Now Pay Later

It’s become economic heresy to reject shopping. Consumer confidence, so the Government tells us, is vital for the recovery of the economy. A splurge at M&S’s one day sale is the socially responsible thing to do, like buying bonds in the war. But I believe that it is our absolute right to save money rather than spend. After all, we worked hard to earn it.

Let’s be clear what economists mean by the term ‘consumer confidence’ – it is the willingness of the public to spend money on luxury items – essentially products that we don’t really need.

We consumers are the engine of the economy. But the fuel for this engine is debt. We’ve funded the last ten years’ boom on our credit cards – collectively owing £1.5 trillion – and we don’t have much to show for it. New cars halve in value the minute we drive them out the showroom, most gadgets become outdated or breakdown soon after their guarantee expires and clothes are virtually worthless once they’re worn. These luxuries are all very exciting when we are carrying them home from the shops, but as investments they’re worse bets than Woolworth’s shares. Essentially, we are being ripped off.

As an anti-consumerism campaigner, I’m frequently labelled as irresponsible when I encourage people to stop shopping. But the Government is being much more reckless, when they ask us to shop our way out of the crash. If ever there was a time to rethink our reliance upon consumerism, when the economic rules are being re-written, it would be now.



THE GOOD CONSUMER



Buy Less Live More

If we don’t shift to a less consumerist and throwaway society, we’ll hit crisis after crisis, and it’s coming soon.

We are going to have, we have to have and it would make us happy to have a change, coming from ordinary human beings who say ‘I don’t want to be trapped, I want more time, less stress.

Clare Short, former International Development Secretary, writing in Bonfire Of The Brands book



The Future Of Your Skin’s Your Hands



The Mark Of A Moron

It’s surely the mark of an individual to refuse to be branded. It’s daft to spend money on Nike clothes. The mark of a moron. Anyone who does so has been merely duped by the million-dollar marketing campaigns. To buy Nike shows a sheep-like nature and a lack of imagination and style.

Who in their right mind would want to be branded, like a cow? A brand identifies you as someone else’s property. It is the mark of a tamed and exploited animal. Brands promise freedom but they deliver the opposite: the worst kind of slavish conformity.

Tom Hodgkisnon, in an excerpt from ‘Bonfire Of The Brands’