The 26th of November is Buy Nothing Day, an event which needs little explanation of what you’re meant to do. But why is there a day specifically set aside for this? Why should we not buy anything for one specific day? What is the point?
The day is an international focus of protest against unchecked consumerism, and encourages people to focus on their own roles as consumers. Originated by the anti-consumerist organisation Adbusters, who played a pivotal role in initiating the Occupy movement, the tagline is ‘participate by not participating!’ By making a point of not shopping, it gives us a chance to reassess our shopping habits and aims to make participants question the things they buy, and why they buy them. Of course, we can’t survive in modern society without eventually buying essential living items, but many of us are guilty of having bought things we’ve never used or didn’t really need or want, wasting money, time and resources on unwanted items.
Often, we’re lured into buying something because of some neat advertising or promises, even if the product is a novelty item or was never needed before. This often goes hand-in-hand with ‘throw-away’ consumerism, and a culture which prefers cheap single-use products, rather than investing in sustainable, long-term alternatives. Disposable products create a huge amount of waste, and are extremely detrimental to the environment. As such, the message of buying nothing combines budgeting with being eco-friendly. We buy into brands we are familiar with because we think they are more reliable, but we rarely question the ethics and real value of such megacorporations. It is this kind of consumerism that Buy Nothing Day hopes to raise awareness of, and eventually tackle.
The American date for Buy Nothing Day is the 25th of November, significantly challenging the shopping-centered events of Thanksgiving and the notorious Black Friday sales. The challenge may focus on one date, but intends to push people out of mindless shopping habits, shifting focus away from shopping and towards independence, creativity and intuitiveness. Some may even carry this sentiment on to celebrate ‘Buy Nothing Christmas’, but your family and friends may not appreciate that so much. In this case, ‘Buy Less Christmas’ might be a better approach. Consider it an attempt to ‘detox’ your mind from constant advertising and spending. The ability to step away from spending and make sure you’re making a good investment in the products you buy will help keep your pennies safe, and Christmas certainly is a time when money seems to fly away alarmingly suddenly.
Not buying anything is just about the most environmentally-friendly thing you can do, and it obviously saves money for potentially better things. Take Buy Nothing Day as an opportunity to change your attitudes towards advertising, brands and throw-away consumerism. One day can’t be that hard, right?