15 February 2007

I'm a consumer - get me out of here!

· 46 days without shopping for anything but essentials

The average UK household spends £443 a week, with £58 on recreation & culture and £62 a week on transport. But what if we didn't? What if we said 'no' to all this spending and settled on just buying what we need?

Michaela Youngson and Anna Drew from Methodist Church House will be doing just that for Lent this year, and are inviting people of all backgrounds to join them Ð a project they are calling 'no new shoes'.

Michaela, Methodist Secretary for Pastoral Care and Spirituality, said: 'It's about becoming more aware of how our needs and desires affect the world around us. Prawns caught in Scotland get flown to Thailand, shelled by hand and then sent back to the UK for sale. Clothes are made in sweatshops, food is processed beyond all recognition and our insatiable appetite for more is fuelling climate change. Is any of this really necessary?'

'I love to shop til' I drop and there's a great sense of satisfaction in taking part in the most popular hobby in the UK today - but just what are we buying into? I think a lot of our shopping habits say something about how we try to feed spiritual hunger. We fill our lives with material goods, without really thinking about where any of it comes from or the effect it may have on the environment or our fellow human beings.'

Lent is traditionally a time when Christians fast or give certain things up in order to refocus on God and spend time in prayer and contemplation, following the example of Jesus who spent 40 days in the wilderness to prepare for his ministry.

Anna said: ''no new shoes' is a Lent experiment Ð we want to find out whether it changes the way we think about ourselves and our world if for 46 days we only purchase essential items. The hardest part is deciding what really counts as 'essential'!'.

Michaela and Anna will be charting their progress on a blog: http://nonewshoes.blogspot.com with regular updates.

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