November 24, 2017

It's Buy Nothing Day - Celebrate By Not Buying Anything

Buy Nothing Day is November 24th in N. America, the 25th everywhere else.

What if they threw a big Buy Everything Day Party (because that is what Black Friday really is) and nobody came? Wouldn't that send a beautiful message?

Linda posed a good question this morning. "How many people buy things they actually need on Black Friday?"

Worse than spending money to buy things you don't need is borrowing money to buy things you don't need. As it turns out, Canadians are the most indebted shoppers on Planet Consumerism.

When N. American wages stopped increasing with rising productivity in the 1970s, consumers didn't scale back their material lifestyles. Tragically, instead of seizing this as an opportunity for Earth-sizing consumption, dedicated shoppers decided instead to borrow money to continue conspicuous consumption.

And in the end what do you get? A big headache/heartache of Buyers' Remorse Syndrome. But we have short memories, and by the time the next BF rolls around we look forward to it as if it is a pleasant opportunity to buy more little plastic castles.

"They say goldfish have no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time
And it's hard to say if they're happy
But they don't seem much to mind."

- Ani Difranco, Little Plastic Castles


  1. I had no idea what Black Friday was until a few years ago. It didn't happen here. Lately though (and especially this year), I see it creeping in with some of the bigger retailers and I'll bet before long it will become an established 'sale'period for us too :( As if Christmas wasn't a big enough enticement for most people to part with their dollars and their sense!!
    I'm sad at the way many people think and behave. It's so....mind-less. And getting harder every year to protect the children from seeing/anticipating/wanting such stupid consumption. Parenting around this is a nightmare.

    1. Karen,

      When I was teaching grade 6, a parent came to see me. She wanted some ideas about how she could help her son with his friends. The friends wouldn't visit her house because her son "didn't have a big screen TV".

      "It is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year. These figures represent dramatic increases over those from the 1970s." - Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children

      It is an uphill battle to counter the full on assault on children's brains. They are trying to recruit life long consumers. Get em while they're young.

      All schools should be teaching media literacy, and alternatives to materialistic lifestyles of endless consumption. I have often thought of creating such a program myself, that could be taken to schools as a workshop.

  2. Anonymous11/24/2017

    Successful no spend day here. If anyone's bored Plant Pure Nation is on YouTube:
    It's a documentary featuring Colin Campbell.

  3. Celebrating not buying anything in South Carolina on the 24th and most days as much as possible.

  4. Proudly not shopping today or mostly any day. I believe it's been nearly a decade now since I've been to any mall or big shopping center. We just watched a news report where there were hundreds out shopping. Looks like mass insanity to me.

    1. Marla,

      Pictures of Black Friday (or any day) shopping masses make me uncomfortable. We must have better things to do than recreational shopping. I read an author today who believes we are maxing out on materialism, and that a post-materialist shift is happening already in developed countries.

      People who have made the shift value much different things, like self-actualization, self-expression, and quality of life.

  5. I totally avoided any shopping on BF. I painted a rock and took my dog for a walk in the park. I'm also proud to say that it's been 2 years this month that I made a conscious decision to stop shopping at the big W store and I haven't missed it one bit.

    1. That sounds like a nice day. The only thing I like about the big W is free camping in their parking lots. But we never go inside. Way to go.

  6. Anonymous11/26/2017

    One of my favorite Ani songs, and so apt. It was great to, once again, not buy unnecessary stuff on that ridiculously fabricated gluttony-fest. Abstaining really feels like an extra-strength punch to consumerism. And while I may be the only one to know I didn't buy anything, my opinion of me and my actions is the one that counts!
    Happy autumn/winter, NBA friends!

    1. Erin,

      Abstaining from consumerism makes me feel like I am in control, not the advertising marketers and corporations. It feels great to say NO to all of that, and a resounding YES to nature. Punch away!

  7. Anonymous11/26/2017

    I am completely mystified by the idea of shopping as a hobby, still more so by the idea of shopping with money you don't have! Maybe what's missing in modern culture is a sense of gratitude for what we already have. In spite of the difficulties of modern life, most of us are still so much better off than our grand parents generation. We also live a life that is relatively luxurious and full of conveniences. I wonder if it is this convenience that then frees up so much time people are filling it with wanting?


    1. Madeleine,

      I don't know how many people stop to think about it, but life is pretty easy for a lot of us compared to our grandparents lives, or even of the lives of many people on our planet today. We have been lulled into taking it all for granted. We know not of what we have, and just want more. So much wanting, so little gratitude.


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