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In a recent assessment of climate change, renowned Canadian social commentator Naomi Klein said one thing we can do to help the earth is “end the cult of shopping”. This Friday, November 25 we can practise by celebrating the 20th annual Buy Nothing Day.

Klein says there is ample economic research that shows a conflict between economic growth and sound climate policy. She argues we can’t have it both ways; we can’t sustain a society fixated on economic growth and cut greenhouse gases to slow climate change at the same time.

She also says “the ecological crisis that has its roots in the overconsumption of natural resources must be addressed not just by improving the efficiency of our economies but by reducing the amount of material stuff we produce and consume.”

Klein points to the public sector – because it is not profit-driven – as playing a lead role in helping to create a new, sustainable economy with less environmental impact.

A simple first step to reducing our materialism is to buy nothing for one day. This helps the earth in many ways: it cuts back on resource use and waste, it reduces energy needed to produce goods, and it cuts back on greenhouse gases to transport goods and pollutants emitted into the environment.

One day not shopping won’t end climate change and other environmental woes completely but it is a step in the right direction.