In a brilliant work of imaginative nonfiction, prize-winning author J.B. MacKinnon asks, what would happen - to our economy, our ecology, our products, ourselves - if we stopped consuming so much? Is that alternative world one we might actually want to live in?
"We can't stop shopping. And yet we must. This is the consumer dilemma."
The planet says we consume too much: In North America, we burn the Earth's resources at a rate five times faster than they can regenerate. And despite our efforts to "green" our consumption - by recycling, increasing energy efficiency, or using solar power - we have yet to see a decline in global carbon emissions.
The economy says we must always consume more, because, as we've seen in the pandemic, even the slightest drop in spending leads to widespread unemployment, bankruptcy, and home foreclosures.
Addressing this paradox head-on, J.B. MacKinnon asks, What would really happen if we simply stop shopping? Is there a way to reduce our consumption to Earth-saving levels without triggering an economic collapse?
At first, this question took him around the world, seeking answers: from America's big-box stores, to the hunter-gatherer cultures of Namibia, to communities in Ecuador that consume at an exactly sustainable rate. Then his thought experiment came shockingly true, as the coronavirus brought shopping to a halt and MacKinnon's ideas were tested in real time.
Drawing on experts ranging from economists to climate scientists to corporate CEOs, MacKinnon investigates how living with less would change our planet, our society, and ourselves. Along the way, he reveals just how much we stand to gain.
Imaginative and inspiring, The Day the World Stops Shopping will empower you to imagine another way.
What the critics say
“A well-researched and provocative analysis offering hope and optimism for our future.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“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: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First)
“J.B. MacKinnon’s The Day the World Stops Shopping is 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)