Buy Nothing Day is Coming, Should You Participate?

Black Friday

By: Kyla Garvey

99% of the things we purchase are either trashed or obsolete within 6 months. Reflect on the amount of time you spend in stores during the holiday season compared to the amount of time you spend with friends and family. Shopping leaves us with almost no feeling of fulfilment and does little more than attempt to fill some insatiable void; concerns over these aspects of consumer culture have prompted some to take action.

Ted Dave launched Buy Nothing Day (BND) in retaliation to the American tradition of Black Friday, which wraps up Thanksgiving every year with a no-holds-barred shopping spree. Held annually on November 25th, it aims to interrupt the vicious cycle of rampant consumerism.

BND recognizes that consumption is the crux of western lifestyles and the root of many issues in our society including environmental degradation, economic injustice, and exploitation. The reality is that North Americans, in particular, consume more than their fair share and are on their way to destroying the planet. According to Anne Leonard, “In the past 3 decades alone one third of the planet’s natural resource space has been consumed.” 

Dawn of the Dead

"Some kind of instinct - memory - of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives." - Zombies in a shopping mall in Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Disappointingly people usually buy because it’s available, not because they need it. Black Friday revolves entirely around the invitation for people to spend because a red price sticker claims “SAVINGS!” And heck, I mean, why not save on something you had no intention on buying, right?

Sure, those who participate in BND have heard every excuse from critics: “it seems like a pointless gesture; people can just go out and buy twice as much the next day?” Or “Stop shopping? Our economy will crash!” However, the goals reach further than the 24 hours designated towards November 25.

The motives behind BND, firstly, encourage people to oppose the seductive corporate media who produce passive consumers and instead shop responsibly for fair trade, local, ethical, and environmentally friendly products; because the disappointing truth is that we usually buy out of availability and convenience, not necessity. Secondly, BND is a boycott of capitalism’s fundamental values because it breeds inequality and dependency. It is this simple: in this [capitalist] system if you do not own or buy a lot of stuff you do not have value. And finally, BND is about appreciating that time is beyond monetary value; devote more time to the worthwhile people in your life.

The solution is simple. People are driven to participate in the economic system. The media convinces them that the only way to have a good time is by spending money. Buy Nothing Day helps bring people down to earth and realize that there is more to this life then just spending. Take the time to look for alternative sources, be creative, buy used. The first step is to reduce: buy less. The second is reuse by buying used.

How To Participate on November 25th

To contribute and celebrate in solidarity with thousands of other North Americans on a chilly fall afternoon visit ShareWestern on Concrete Beach on November 25 from 11:00 to 2:00 with all of your unwanted goods and useful skills. This event is meant to facilitate communication within the western community and encourage alternative methods of buying.

As citizens we have the responsibility and power to facilitate change in our own daily lives and routines. Participating in actions like Buy Nothing Day also help to spread the message and show governments, corporations, and people of power that we are not okay with this system. We also have the responsibility to engage more in our democracy. Look here for more ways to participate.

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