By now, I'm sure everyone's heard about Neil Boorman's Bonfire of the Brands, where he destroyed all his branded possessions. There have already been posts on DCSC and Sharon J provoking some thoughtful comments, many about the perceived waste of resources.
I'd skated through his blog - not in great depth I have to admit, and was undecided. The cynical part of me was ready to write it off as a publicity stunt - Boorman's a nightclub promoter ... He had a PR team at the event ... He has a book coming out next Autumn ... But now I'm not so sure ...
Boorman claims to have been a brand addict from an early age. He used his possessions to project himself and invested his self-esteem in them. He believed the hype but came to a realisation that he'd been swindled.
'These brands never deliver the happiness they promise. After a while, you're left feeling empty, needing another branded hit. That's the vicious cycle ... A consumer society is an anxious society,' he reckons, pointing out that comparatively wealthy Britain came 24th in a New Scientist happiness poll - behind countries where poverty is rife.
Now no one in their right mind would argue that poverty = happiness. But we do need to accept that accumulating wealth and possessions don't complete the equation either.
More to the point, Boorman's been living up to his rhetoric, refusing to buy any branded goods for the last 6 months and continuing to do so now the 'show' is over. He has no mobile, has had to give up cigarettes and makes his own toothpaste. In an interview in the Independent on Sunday, he says, 'It will be a slower life from now on. I will have to think a lot more.'
Challenging our rampant consumerism and rethinking our priorities has to be a good thing, desn't it? While few people will go as far as Boorman has, hopefully many people will have stopped to think about his message, which wouldn't have happened if he'd simply given his £20,000 worth of possessions away rather than publicly destroying them.
And maybe some will think twice when they're next out shopping ...