Today is Buy Nothing Day, a day when many around the world encourage you to understand how restrictive it is to be a consumer. A consumer-driven economy weakens people by reducing us to purchasing machines that earn money in order to spend it mostly on things we don’t need. We become defined by what we buy; business spends billions telling us to get on the fashion treadmill by buying things so we remain relevant in the eyes of our fashion-observing neighbors. In this mode there’s no room for being politically active citizens who care about the world in which we live. Citizenship encourages caring about the community, the environment, and ourselves. Such thinking is likely to get you to reach the conclusions Annie Leonard reached some time ago—all the steps of a consumerist life are killing us and none of these steps are sustainable. Even if you get a little happiness from purchasing stuff that joy is short-lived, so on its own terms consumerism is not sustainable. In the long run you discard most of the stuff you buy. The ethical arguments against treating people as we do (sending children into mines for some of the raw goods to make more computers, for instance) are powerful on their own. Clearly we need a better way to live.