In a move that is designed as a challenge to "consumerism as usual" and a reminder of the dominance of money in our lives, the Methodist Church in Britain has launched an alternative Credit Card containing a "buy less" message.
The new Methodist campaign is encouraging people to consume less and live more this Lent, the traditional time of Christian reflection and life review, which remembers the Gospel story of Jesus' sojourn in the desert - when he was tempted, and rejected, various offers of wealth and power.
The alternative Buy Less: Live More credit card cannot be used to make purchases. Rather, it is designed to be placed in a wallet in front of other credit and debit cards to remind people to think twice before they spend.
Buy Less: Live More aims to challenge people to curb their spending and shrink their carbon footprint.
It will also be seen as relevant to current concerns about the consumer credit boom, which has been leaving an increasing number of people in debt.
The Revd Michaela Youngson, Methodist Secretary for Pastoral Care and Spirituality, says: "When we take time to think about the things we buy and why we buy them, it can help us to reconsider our priorities. I may well want to buy something, but does that mean that I need it?"
She continues: "However, Buy Less: Live More isn’t about depriving yourself of those things you want; it’s about looking at life in a new way, trying different things and taking a few risks. So as well as reducing your carbon footprint by getting off the consumer treadmill, you can live life in all its fullness."
The initiative is supported by a website (www.buylesslivemore.org.uk) and a dedicated group on the popular networking site Facebook.
During Lent, in February, people who sign up will receive a daily email with 2 challenges or ideas for buying less and living more. These updates will also be available on the website and Facebook group.
Participants will also be able to share their experiences online, swapping stories, questions and advice.
Buy less: Live More credit cards can be ordered in packs of 10 from mph (www.mph.org.uk , 01733 325002) for free, with a small charge for postage. Product Code: PA 512.
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches in Britain, with nearly 300,000 members and regular contact with over 800,000 people. It has about 5,800 churches and maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.