ACTIVISTS TARGET `SHOP TILL YOU DROP' BEHAVIOR
By DOLORES KONG
The Boston Globe
While rr crowds throng the malls the day after
Thanksgiving, Andrea Kulish and her band of Buy
Nothing Day supporters will be handing out "Christmas
gift exemption vouchers" at Downtown Crossing and
urging people to think before they shop.
Kulish, 26, a freelance photographer, is one of a
growing number of activists who are lining up on the
opposite end of the behavioral spectrum from people
who shop till they drop, out of concern for the
environment or excessive consumerism.
The last time Kulish went shopping for herself was
when her clothes developed too many holes. She makes
Christmas gifts and reuses everything from shrink wrap
to the comics to wrap them.
"It goes back to my father, who came to this country
from Ukraine with nothing. Growing up with him has
instilled certain values in my life," Kulish said.
"Personally, anything that is not necessary to me for
the basic things in life is something I view as a
luxury and, often, also a waste."
Buy Nothing Day, an observance first started by an
organization called Adbusters in Vancouver, taps into
the same sentiment that has popularized such books as
"Your Money or Your Life" and "The Overspent American"
and led some people to adopt a lifestyle known as
Supporters of Buy Nothing Day try to make people more
aware by asking them why they shop, by pointing out
what retailers do to try to get them to buy more, and
by highlighting the environmental consequences of the
goods they buy.
"That's why we're out here, the Buy Nothing Day
people, to show there's an alternative. Tell your
family you're going to make them a dinner, give them
the gift of a massage," Kulish said.
"Instead of going shopping as an activity, listen to
some music or go for a walk."
Stephen Zavestoski, an environmental sociologist at
Providence College and a supporter of Buy Nothing Day,
said he has taken students to Providence Place, a new
downtown mall, to show how the layout seems to have
been designed to spur more buying.
"It's a long mall and escalators are only at either
end," leading shoppers to walk by many more stores to
go up and down floors, said Zavestoski, who has
studied why some people appear more receptive to
adopting a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity.
Shoppers need to walk farther, past some stores, to
pick up the bank of escalators to the next floor, he
Joseph Koechel, general manager of Providence Place,
which opened in August and has 100 stores, said the
unusual layout of the escalators was meant to prevent
people from stumbling over one another, in addition to
increasing foot traffic by stores.
"When you have weekends like the one that's coming
up," Koechel said, spreading out the banks of
escalators is a "better thing safety- wise" and
"shares the wealth with stores at the long end."