Move Over, Black Friday. Buy Nothing Day 2012 Is Here!

Family Matters on 11.22.12
Contributing Writer bio

Photo: Adbusters

Instead of going shopping on tomorrow’s notorious Black Friday, I’ll be observing Buy Nothing Day 2012. The concept is simple. Along with millions of other people in sixty countries, I’ll go cold turkey on consumption for twenty-four hours. This is a way to protest the rampant and often unnecessary consumerism that takes such high priority in North America.

The idea for a Buy Nothing Day was created by Canadian artist and actor Ted Dave in 1992 and has since grown, largely promoted by Vancouver’s Adbusters magazine, also known for their support of the Occupy movement and a holiday version, #OccupyXmas, that advocates a total boycott of Christmas shopping. (I’m not yet willing to do that, though I see the merits of such a movement.) On their website, Adbusters explains the reasoning behind Buy Nothing Day 2012: “Until we challenge the entrenched values of capitalism – that the economy must always keep growing, that consumer wants must always be satisfied, that immediate gratification is imperative – we’re not going able to fix the gigantic psycho-financial-eco crisis of our times.”

One thing I really struggle with – and this is the very essence of Black Friday -- is the urge to shop when a great deal is offered, not because I actually need the item in question but because the price is reduced. It’s an urge I fight to suppress on a regular basis. Writer Gretchen Rubin mentions this in her New York Times-bestselling book The Happiness Project: “One kind of clutter I saw in other people’s homes but didn’t suffer from myself was bargain clutter, which results from buying unnecessary things because they’re on sale.” Too often there is social and inner personal pressure to buy for the sake of buying. When I do need something in particular, that’s when I sniff out any sales that could benefit me.

Buy Nothing Day is meant to be celebrated on an individual level, while demonstrating to retailers that the world needs change and supporting those of us who feel uncomfortable with the excesses of Black Friday. It’s easy to participate – no purchase necessary!

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