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 justbuying what we need?

Michaela Youngson and Anna Drew from Methodist Church House will bedoing just that for Lent this year, and are inviting people of allbackgrounds to join them Ð a project they are calling 'no newshoes'.

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

'I love to shop til' I drop and there's a great sense ofsatisfaction in taking part in the most popular hobby in the UKtoday - but just what are we buying into? I think a lot of ourshopping habits say something about how we try to feed spiritualhunger. We fill our lives with material goods, without reallythinking about where any of it comes from or the effect it may haveon the environment or our fellow human beings.'

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

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

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