When was the last time you went a whole day without buying anything? In this day and age, is it actually possible to buy nothing for twenty four hours? Supporters of ‘Buy Nothing Day’ think it is. And what’s more, they think we should all try it. At its core, Buy Nothing Day is a protest against the consumerism the organizers felt was necessary in our world, governed by the need to “have things”.
The History of Buy Nothing Day
Buy Nothing Day was founded in Vancouver, Canada by artist Ted Dave in September of 1992. It is celebrated on the Friday after American Thanksgiving (the day also infamously known as ‘Black Friday’). And anyone who has ever seen what happens in North America during the Black Friday sales understands all too well why it was high time that we take a step back and look at ourselves, our behavior, and contemplate the meaning of all of the Black Friday madness.
Soon after Buy Nothing Day was created, campaigns to have a similar day of reflection started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, and Norway. More than 65 nations currently participate in it. Adbusters, a company responsible for the inital promotion of Ted Dave’s idea for Buy Nothing Day, states that the day “isn’t just about changing your habits for one day” but “about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”
How to Celebrate Buy Nothing Day
People who observe ‘Buy Nothing Day’ can do many things to express their objection to our consumer-based culture. They may simply stay home with friends and family rather than going shopping. Some organize a so-called “zombie walk”, during which all of the participating “zombies” lurch around stores, supermarkets and shopping malls aimlessly, buying nothing, and staring ahead blankly. This is used to raise awareness about Buy Nothing Day, as the “zombies” will inevitably be asked what they are doing and why, and then can proceed to explain their point of view.
Some people have taken advantage of the lack of shopping on that day, and used the time to instead celebrate nature and the immense amount of beauty it offers us, free of charge. This can be done by spending the day in the countryside or the mountains, or even in a park, resting in the sunshine and enjoying the breeze. Some other participants stand in a shopping mall with a pair of scissors and a poster that advertises help for people who want to put an end to their mounting credit card debt and shopping addiction with one simple cut.
A strategy employed by a group of participants in the 2009 Wildcat General Strike was to not only refrain from shopping, but keep all of their electric appliances off during the entire day as well, not travel anywhere by car, and not use their cell phones.
Some argue that ‘Buy Nothing Day’ can be the start of a life-changing lifestyle commitment, where others claim it’s meaningless, as observers simply buy more the following day. Either way, there’s no doubt that going without buying anything for an entire day is quite a challenge in the modern world, and will serve to make you think about what your life is really about.