Rhys Smith, Contributor
This Friday is the infamous Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the US, which takes place the day after Thanksgiving. The culmination of American Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, with many major stores such as Walmart, Best Buy and even luxury stores like Macy’s opening early the following day to promote sales. However, this Friday is also the date of another event, one you may not be so familiar with: Buy Nothing Day.
As you may have deduced, Buy Nothing Day is supposed to be a day of zero purchase. The event is aimed to be the opposite of Black Friday, a day to protest the mass consumerism of our society and stick it to The Man. In the US, Canada and Mexico, it falls on Black Friday, but it’s also celebrated globally on the Saturday after American Thanksgiving.
Started by Vancouver based-artist Ted Dave, the first Buy Nothing Day took place in Mexico, September 1992. In 1997 the date was moved to Black Friday in North America, and since then has produced campaigns all over the world, including the UK, Japan, Israel, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
These dissenters practice “non-consumerist” methods in a variety of ways. For example: participants of the movement will stand in shopping malls with scissors and posters, promoting the event and offering to cut up people’s credit cards to put an end to “extortionate interest rates and mounting debt.” Another method: people will dress up as zombies and roam shopping malls or areas with a blank stare on their face, to illustrate mindless consumption. When asked what they are doing, they describe Buy Nothing Day. Yet another practice: people will steer empty shopping carts around stores in an almost conga-line fashion, without making any purchases.
I don’t endorse Buy Nothing Day: I think it’s toxic. It’s ignorant on many levels. Currently we’re in an economic crisis and we need to promote spending in order to stimulate the economy. Boycotting consumerism will do the opposite of this. You might say that this is only 1 of the 365 days of the year and is just supposed to bring attention to the so-called injustices of our economic system. Supporters of the movement disagree, though; they want to use Buy Nothing Day as a jumping off point, and try to secure as many followers as they can for the future. This is downright ludicrous: if principles of Buy Nothing Day were to continue throughout the year, the economy would cease to exist. In addition, the movement is an insult to people who cannot even afford to shop on a regular basis. How would you feel if you barely had enough money to survive and a friend of yours from the middle class decided to “buy nothing” for one day, when buying nothing for you is a reality? The Buy Nothing Day movement is one of ignorance, plain and simple.