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Shopping, Much?

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.

Because the greatest show of love is intentionally not buying your loved ones anything at all, even if you can afford it.


2 thoughts on “Shopping, Much?

  1. Too bad buy nothing day falls on the same day as Black Friday – better sales than boxing day and clearance sales.

    Posted by Lydia | November 27, 2011, 5:06 PM
  2. I have to disagree completely, I don’t think it’s a movement of ignorance at all. I don’t necessarily think it’s the best idea to parade around in malls dressed as zombies or go around a store in a conga line with an empty shopping cart either though. At that point, it just becomes a pointless waste of time and a bit of a show, which I don’t think is the way to prove a point (putting on a lame show to protest the rest of society’s ways – too hipster for my liking!)

    That said, though I’d never heard of “buy nothing day” before, based on what you’ve said about it here I think you judge it way too harshly. It doesn’t sound to me like it’s supposed to start a movement to NEVER buy anything ever again (which, as you say, would cause the economy to cease to exist), at least probably not for most people who participate. I think it’s more about highlighting how shopping-obsessed we are, especially this time of year, which I don’t think anyone can deny whether you agree with the movement or not. Halloween was barely over and stores were already promoting christmas deals and getting everyone into the “buying spirit”. I personally think it’s a cool idea for people to take a day to purposely not buy anything, and especially important for people who DO have a lot of money. Less so, as you say, for people who don’t have the money to afford them the luxury of boycotting consumerism in the first place.

    Which reminds me, I REALLY don’t like how you go on about a person with no money – where are you getting your information from when you say “In addition, the movement is an insult to people who cannot even afford to shop on a regular basis”? It doesn’t sound like it’s from personal experience or from a great deal of research, though I’m trying not to be presumptuous. My instinct would be the opposite – I feel like if I didn’t have a lot of money (which I didn’t for a really long time), I would LOVE to see a day where a significant amount of people stopped shopping, to prove a point – we don’t NEED to shop frivolously to survive, and we especially don’t need to buy each other gifts to prove our love; tons of people don’t buy each other gifts at chrismtas – because they can’t or because they don’t want to. They don’t love each other any less than those who buy each other ridiculously expensive crap for every holiday and occasion!

    Just an opposing opinion to yours – but not an attack on you or your values so please don’t take it as one 🙂

    Posted by Anonymous | November 24, 2011, 12:15 PM

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