Monday, 16 November 1998

FoE Joins The Rat Race


With less than one month before Christmas, a coalition of Sheffield FoE members and many students from Sheffield University Students’ Union were on hand to host 1998’s National No Shop Day stunt.

The stunt consisted of a large maze with the words “Work Harder”, “Earn More Money”, “Buy More Things” and “Keep Going” printed on each side. Several “rats” could be seen perpetually running around the maze in the pointless goal of trying to find happiness by working harder and buying more goods.

The idea of the maze was to reject the notion made by advertisers that to be happy you have to consume more. In reality, happiness is obtained by having good health, friends, a nice community and a clean environment in which to live.

The day of action should have also transformed Fargate into a living room, complete with lamp stand, television and sofa. This was going to visually highlight that we’re all being brain washed by advertisements on television. Unfortunately, due to delivery problems this action had to be cancelled.

On a more positive note, two musicians helped to attract the attention of the public by singing songs about Meadowhall’s environmental impact while playing the guitar and the violin.

Later that day a photographer from the Sheffield Star arrived to take photographs of the rat race maze. On Monday, an article covering nearly half a page appeared in the Star complete with a photograph of the maze. A few days later, the Sheffield Gazette covered a slightly cut down version of the article. With the combined readership of the two papers we may have informed thousands of people about the aims of No Shop Day.

Besides the expected media interest, an artist walking down Fargate decided to take snaps of the event to include in his exhibition of life in the city centre.

Sheffield Friends of the Earth would like to thank all the people involved on the day and everyone involved with its planning. In particular,  we would like to thank the university green group for making the event possible and for the building of the maze.