Buy, buy, bye

Stop shopping … or the planet will go pop

Hanson, Supermarket Shopper

Duane Hanson, Supermarket Shopper

In the week that saw Primark mania, Jonathon Porritt, the government’s green guru, says consumerism is now a lethal disease. David Smith reports

Sunday April 8, 2007
The Observer

‘Many big ideas have struggled over the centuries to dominate the planet,’ begins the argument by Jonathon Porritt, government adviser and all-round environmental guru.

‘Fascism. Communism. Democracy. Religion. But only one has achieved total supremacy. Its compulsive attractions rob its followers of reason and good sense. It has created unsustainable inequalities and threatened to tear apart the very fabric of our society. More powerful than any cause or even religion, it has reached into every corner of the globe. It is consumerism.’

Duane Hanson sculpture

Duane Hanson sculpture

According to Porritt, the most senior adviser to the government on sustainability, we have become a generation of shopaholics. We are bombarded by advertising from every medium which persuades us that the more we consume, the better our lives will be. Shopping is equated with fun, fulfilment and self-identity. It is also, Porritt warns, killing the planet. He argues, in an interview with The Observer, that merely switching to ‘ethical’ shopping is not enough. We must shop less.

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