We are using up the planet at almost double the rate it can regenerate. To support our economies, we're told we must shop now like we've never shopped before. And whilst we can do it more responsibly, the scale of our consumption remains the biggest factor in the ruination of the planet. Yet our reliance on stuff continues to grow.
But what would our world look like if we stopped? Would civilisation collapse? Would the planet's ecology be reborn? What would happen to the way we think, make products, use time, express our individuality? Would life be better – or worse?
Visiting places where economies have experienced temporary shut-downs, artisan producers, zero-consumption societies and bringing together a host of expert views, this is both a deeply reported thought-experiment, a history of our relationship with consumption, and a story about the future.
Our private choices are putting the world in peril. The Day the World Stops Shopping is an essential exploration of who we are and what we use, and a vision of a more sustainable world.
"In a large pool of often simplistic manuals for simple living, this book stands out for its curiosity, humanity and genuinely global appreciation of why we consume too much and what to do about it"
– Frank Trentmann, author of Empire of Things
"Dissecting the dilemma at civilization's heart – the burden that reckless growth heaps upon the faltering Earth – J.B. MacKinnon lays out a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in a gripping, page-turning read. With wit, precision, and startling insights from around the world, he looks deeply into what we have done, and might do so much better. A model of clarity and grace, The Day the World Stops Shopping is one of the most important and well-written books I have read"
– Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
"A welcome and rare mix: a strong environmental argument and a jaunty picaresque. For the former, MacKinnon makes a convincing case that we need to shop less now. Green consumerism, in MacKinnon's telling, isn't just about buying ecologically-sound stuff or recycling our rubbish. It's about buying many fewer things, leaving us so much less to recycle in the first place. You will want to buy this book and after you read it, little else"
– Alissa Quart, author of Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America and Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
"A provocative thought experiment that asks us to imagine what currently seems unthinkable, this is a beautifully written and rigorously researched revelation, an extraordinary creative journey to a place we urgently need to go. Full of hope and deep thought, unassuming and devoid of preaching, it is an exciting and truly inspiring read. I couldn't put it down"
– Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power and The New Corporation: How "Good" Corporations are Bad for Democracy
"A delight. MacKinnon has given us a powerful exploration of a riddle central to our days and lives: how we are what we buy, and how buying less might make us so much more"
– Andrew Blum, author of Tubes and The Weather Machine