Promoting the recycling of consumer goods, such as cans, bottles
and newsprint, has been an important aim of Friends of the Earth (FoE)
since it was formed 26 years ago. FoE has now moved on to campaign
against consumerism as a way of life and as an economic philosophy.
International No Shop Day was created in the early 1990s by radical
green student groups and by Enough - an anti-consumerism pressure group.
FoE joined the campaign for last November’s No Shop Day. A report
entitled Tomorrow’s World - Britain’s Share in a Sustainable Future,
published by FoE last November, provided a factual and policy backdrop
to No Shop Day.
The research claimed that ’Britain will have to make huge cuts in
consumption in order to avoid a fast-approaching environmental crisis
and help the developing world.’
The report argues that the UK must scrap unqualified economic growth as
the central policy goal and that cuts in resource consumption would lead
to more jobs, better health and increased quality of life.
To focus attention on the perils of consumerism in the run-up to
Christmas; to encourage shoppers to ask how long products will last; to
make the link between consumption and environmental sustainability.
FoE’s campaign was run by its industry and pollution campaign team - one
of the pressure group’s five main campaign teams - headed by Ann
The team mobilised the 250 local FoE groups in England, Wales and
Northern Ireland, provided briefing notes, and art work, but encouraged
the groups to run local campaigns themselves.
The London office handled national press and media relations and
organised a photoshoot at a No Shop near Waterloo Station. The shop was
a joint installation project with the Royal College of Art’s environment
It features tempting window designs, but empty shelves. Visitors
received a receipt for not shopping.
Surreal humour marked many of the local events. Shopping-free zones,
shopaholic clinics, bald headed zombies chanting ’shop till you drop’
and fake products appeared in several towns and cities.
Thomas said the campaign was ’generic rather than at this stage trying
to drive home a particular policy.’ Non-confrontational humour was
chosen to get people thinking without feeling guilty.
The campaign was covered by a wide variety of media, and was picked up
by columnists and leader writers for the national newspapers. John Ryle
in the Guardian compared the No Shop concept to a ’consumer fast’.
Friends of the Earth has not released an evaluation of coverage.
This was an ambitious campaign which attracted a lot of media attention
during the Christmas period. Adam Woolf, former head of public relations
with Greenpeace, said it was creative and successful in getting over a
general message in a clear way.
’It was also fun and was live in the high street, rather than just
existing in the media,’ he said. Thomas said the campaign cost ’very
little’ and added that next year Friends of the Earth might target a
specific company as part of the campaign.
Client: Friends of the Earth
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: International No Shop Day
Timescale: 29 November 1997