March 6, 2017
Trump rose to power upon a coalition of white supremacists, climate change deniers and those willing to look the other way so long as he delivers higher profits. If profit margins decline, this coalition will collapse. Those who are opposed to Trump and the toxic values he represents must loudly proclaim that we will not continue to fuel an economy that has no space for human values. Despite the damage Trump is doing to our planet and democracy, the economy will keep rolling happily along as long as we keep buying the crap transnational corporations are churning out. We must protest — but if we do so by flying to Washington and buying Starbucks before the march we provide economic support for his policies that nearly cancels out the political pressure. Instead, we must temporarily opt out of the growth machine and turn our attention to building new communities, institutions and enterprises. Throw a fundraiser in your living room: dance and laugh and eat homemade food, then give the money you and your friends would have spent on a night out to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU or Black Lives Matter or some delicious mix of your own devising. Together, let’s turn away from the glossy, empty facade capitalism has distracted us with and look at our own lives anew. If the corporate world stops driving us towards our doom, we can make it rain discretionary spending once again. If not, we will find smaller, kinder, more natural ways to meet our needs.
To participate, buy less (or buy differently) then tell companies why with the slogan IMNOTBUYINGIT. Making a habit of asking yourself ‘do I really need this?’ will help you make better, less impulsive choices. If you choose not to upgrade that old smartphone you hate using, you will also be choosing to spend more quality time with your family. You might discover a local restaurant that makes you feel at home in a way that McDonald’s never could. You might spend more time at church or mosque or synagogue and less at the mall. Buying fewer things is also good for the environment in any political climate.
Given two options:
Choose the cheaper one.
Buy tofu over beef. Staycation instead of vacation. Invite your friends over instead of going out. Live in your parents’ basement for one more year instead of moving out. Cancel your data plan and milk that free wifi. Instead of renovating, wait another year (you’re busy anyway).
Choose the smaller company.
Choose the family restaurant over the big chain. Buy vintage clothing instead of new clothing. Go to a garage sale.
A local company won’t hire lobbyists, fund biased scientists or buy political ads.
Choose organizations that put values before profits.
Instead of giving mass-market gewgaws as gifts, donate to a charity. Buy a subscription to a newspaper that holds high standards while struggling to make ends meet. Treat yourself at a church bake sale. Choose a social enterprise or a co-op over a private business. Choose fair trade or union-made. Choose companies that proudly pay a living wage. Buy tickets to a museum or dance performance or any other non-profit cultural institution.
We need honest enterprises providing services, making goods and creating jobs. We don’t need companies willing to do anything to make a buck – especially if those extra profits are used to distort public discourse.
Changing habits can be hard, so we encourage you to partner up with a friend to keep each other honest. Go through your visa or debit bills line by line and see what you can cut. Choose one thing you will stop buying and send that email THIS WEEK. This change may seem impossible given the rhythms of our daily lives, but we don’t have to be perfect. Just stop and ask yourself ‘do I actually need this’ each time you are about to buy something. As this question becomes a habit, change will come more and more easily.
While a recession attributed to incompetence would likely end Trump’s presidency, our movement will be more effective if it is visible. In that regard, we should all adopt two simple tactics:
1) Whenever you choose not to buy something send an email to the company you avoided with the subject line IMNOTBUYINGIT telling them what product you almost bought or used to buy, but chose not to. Make the email polite but direct, tell the company what you like about the product, why you used to buy it and why you stopped.
2) Consider tallying up your savings and tweeting them or posting them on Facebook with the hashtag #IMNOTBUYINGIT. .
What are your actual demands?
#Imnotbuyingit is a tactic, not an ideology. Take it and run with it. You might stop spending until Trump is impeached or the Republicans are voted out. You might stop spending until there are meaningful restrictions on political fundraising. You might stop spending until settler-colonialists make an honest deal with the native people who inhabit this land. You might stop spending until the threat of global warming is averted. Any and all of those are reasonable, specific and human goals. Hopefully, the corporate world will get the message and help us return our society to a saner path. If big companies fail to adapt to our desires, and the economy continues to contract, then so be it. We will have a head-start in learning how to thrive and celebrate in a post-growth world. If some of us struggle, we will help each other. We will have discovered a hundred delightful ways to simply exist, without growing mindlessly, while the capitalists continue to bicker and fume and try to return their broken growth machine.