“People are drowning in things. They don’t even know what they want them for. They are actually useless.” So said James Baldwin, 50 years ago.
Since then, there has been a near continuous increase in the consumption of every major natural resource. We are using up the planet at a rate 1.7 times faster than it can regenerate.
Today, the average person in a rich country (hello Canada!) consumes 13 times as much as the average person in a poor one. Our consumption is fuelling climate change and making the whole world vulnerable to viruses like COVID-19.
“The 21st century has brought a critical dilemma into sharp relief: we must stop shopping, and yet we can’t stop shopping.”
So says J.B. MacKinnon, the co-originator of the 100-mile diet concept, in his brilliant but confronting new book, The Day the World Stops Shopping.
On the evening of May 27, join MacKinnon and culture editor of The Tyee, Dorothy Woodend, in a spirited discussion about our obsession with stuff, and whether, as MacKinnon argues, ending consumerism is what “saves the environment and ourselves.”
This event is free with registration. Books are available to purchase.
Woodend is known for her insightful culture commentary and has written about her love of clothing, from the perfect coat to her favourite threadbare sweater. As a lover of fine things with a critical eye for consumption, she is the perfect host to engage in an honest and deep discussion of consumerism in all its delights and darkness.
You can jump right into the debate as we conduct a live poll during the event when we’ll ask what “things” really matter to you. What can you live without? What are you prepared to give up?
Or, are we truly doomed to shop till we drop?
This event is a partnership between The Tyee, Upstart & Crow and the Festival of What Works.
J.B. MACKINNON is the author or co-author of five books of non-fiction. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the New Yorker, National Geographic, and the Atlantic, as well as the Best American Science and Nature Writing anthologies. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches feature writing.
MacKinnon’s latest book is The Day the World Stops Shopping, a thought-experiment that imagines what would happen — to our economies, our products, our planet, our selves — if we committed to consuming far fewer of the Earth’s resources. Previous works are The Once and Future World, a bestseller about rewilding the natural world; The 100-Mile Diet (with Alisa Smith), widely recognized as a catalyst of the local foods movement; I Live Here (with Mia Kirshner and artists Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge), a ‘paper documentary’ about displaced people; and Dead Man in Paradise, the story of a priest assassinated in the Dominican Republic, which won Canada’s highest prize for literary non-fiction.
DOROTHY WOODEND is the culture editor for The Tyee. Born in Vancouver, she was raised on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, where nothing ever happened. She and her twin sister hightailed to Vancouver after graduating, where they lived on bags of frozen french fries and worked a series of crappy jobs. Dorothy holds degrees in English from Simon Fraser University and film animation from Emily Carr University. She has worked in many different cultural disciplines, including producing contemporary dance and new music concerts, running a small press, programming film festivals, as well as writing for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S.
Dorothy is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and is the senior festival advisor for DOXA Documentary Film Festival. She won the silver medal for best column at the Digital Publishing Awards in 2019 and 2020 and was nominated for a National Magazine Award for best column in 2019. In 2020, she was awarded the Max Wyman Award for Critical Writing.
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