Overconsumption and the environment: should we all stop shopping?

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Over-consumption is at the root of the planet’s environmental crisis. One solution, proposed by author JB MacKinnon, is that we should simply buy less. But would that really work?

I fear I’m in JB MacKinnon’s bad books. Halfway through our Zoom interview, I tilt my camera to adjust to the setting sun – but from this new angle, an e-commerce box can be spotted over my shoulder. Its barcode glows in the fading light, a totem of 21st-century materialism presiding over our call.

MacKinnon is too polite to say anything, but he can’t be thrilled by my cardboard companion. After all, the Canadian bestselling author and journalist is on a mission to get us to buy a lot less stuff. The Day the World Stops Shopping, his new book, explores what might happen if the world transformed into a society that does not revolve around purchasing, one in which our primary role is not as consumers and our credit cards are not our most commonly deployed tools.

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