21 November 2012 @ 11:00 am
Buy Nothing Day 2012  

I debated a little about observing Buy Nothing Day this Friday (November 23), mostly because there have been some compelling campaigns lately encouraging consumers to buy locally on Friday. I’m particularly fond of the way independent businesses have suggested celebrating “plaid Friday” by buying locally as an alternative to the more chain-based “black Friday.”

But in the end, the focus on … well, owning stuff that has come to overshadow both Thanksgiving and Christmas — and our lives the rest of the year, too — makes me deeply uncomfortable, and it still feels right to consciously step back from it and to refuse to take part in it on this day that celebrates buying and owning as much as we can simply because … well, simply because we can.

I’m aware that I’m coming from a position of privilege when I say “it’s only stuff.” (This could be the subject of a post of its own.) I’m also aware that if I’m not conscious of limiting consumption the rest of the year, taking a day to step back is pretty meaningless. But stepping back mindfully can be meaningful, and can shade actions beyond the day when one does it.

It also feels important to say, to myself as much as to anyone else, that I reject the idea of acquiring things mindlessly or owning them just because I can, and that I prefer to be more measured and thoughtful about the physical objects in my life.

And it feels important to reaffirm that doing and being and creating are all far more valuable than buying and owning.

So I think shopping locally (more plaidly) and focusing on small businesses even beyond one’s community remain valuable, and I’ll continue to look for ways to do so the rest of the year even as I continue also being more mindful about what I buy in the first place–because an economy based on excess is ultimately a flawed economy.

But Friday, I’ll be doing other things instead.

- Wikipedia summary of Buy Nothing Day
- AdBusters’ Buy Nothing Day Campaign
- CNN interview with the editor-in-chief of AdBusters
- The Story of Stuff
- Stephen Colbert interview with the author of The Story of Stuff
- Buy Nothing Do Something supports Walmart workers striking this Friday

Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: Wordpress Edition.

 
 
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
dancinghorse: lolgenghisdancinghorse on November 21st, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
I've been seeing Buy Local Day listed as Saturday. And in fact there are some things I need to get at the farmers' market.

I have never bought anything on Black Friday except groceries or horse feed. I'll be continuing the tradition this year.

The whole culture of frantic consumerism makes me want to throw up.
Janni Lee Simner: wildfire aftermathjanni on November 21st, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
I've been seeing both Small Business Saturday and Plaid Friday.

I've never counted buying food as shopping on Buy Nothing Day. Because food, well, that actually does fall under necessities, and one isn't buying it just to own it or to have the experience of buying it.

The whole culture of frantic consumerism makes me want to throw up.

More and more, me too.
ellarienellarien on November 21st, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
I was rather appalled to hear that some stores are going to be open as early as 5pm tomorrow.

And I always thought the Friday after Thanksgiving was a good day for sleeping in and pottering gently around at home.
Janni Lee Simner: wildfire aftermathjanni on November 21st, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
And I always thought the Friday after Thanksgiving was a good day for sleeping in and pottering gently around at home.

Ditto!
magicalbookwormmagicalbookworm on November 21st, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
This'll be my first black friday working in retail. thankfully JC Penney is opening at 6am on friday and not on thanksgiving at all.

i've never done black friday shopping and never felt like it, but now, i really see it as a way to get more hours at work, to make sure that i have a job during the holidays.

I don't see black friday as supporting the business that are doing this, but supporting the workers who need the hours at work to pay their bills and buy food.
Janni Lee Simner: bookshelfjanni on November 21st, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
I definitely wouldn't want to take away work from those working black Friday where it's wanted ... I'd just like to see that work become something more sustainable and year-round and reliable, rather than focused on a few frenetic days, if that makes sense.

It's a criticism of the larger system for me, not of those on the ground in retail, who are going to be working incredibly hard this weekend.

Edited at 2012-11-21 08:36 pm (UTC)
Teka Lynntekalynn on November 21st, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense, actually. Thank for clarifying, and thank you for thinking of this.
Teka Lynntekalynn on November 21st, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
Good luck!

I'm working Black Friday as well, but we "only" open at 8 AM (an hour and a half earlier than normal hours). A sign on our door specifically says that we are closed on Thanksgiving so that employees may enjoy the holiday with family.
Janni Lee Simner: wildfire aftermathjanni on November 21st, 2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
I was actually pleased to realize that planning breakfast with a friend tomorrow has become more difficult because some of my favorite breakfast meeting places are closed for the holiday.

Because, you know, my wanting to meet someone shouldn't keep those employees from their families. And a little because, you know, being reminded we can actually get together over tea in our homes is a good thing, too.
Tiffany Trenttltrent on November 22nd, 2012 12:07 am (UTC)
Great post! I'm giving to charity on Friday and also trying to remind myself to keep thinking about my relationship to consumerism and owning stuff. It's something I struggle with, b/c frankly, I like stuff, esp. Shiny New Stuff--must be my inner crow or magpie. :-) But it feels odd to me to spend a day being thankful and then suddenly going out and buying everything in sight. So, like you, I'll keep contemplating this.
mmegaerammegaera on November 22nd, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
I had no idea there was an official name for what I've been doing ever since I first heard the term Black Friday. I can't say that I don't go near stores on that day because of being anti-owning stuff for the heck of it, though, even if I am firmly of the opinion that the only good economy is the kind that thrives when everyone is sensibly frugal. I just don't shop on that day because I hate crowds [wry g].
Peni GriffinPeni Griffin on November 22nd, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
I haven't shopped on the day after Thanksgiving in 30 years. Shopping is a miserable experience for me on ordinary days; a day named after the misery that retail employees experience trying to get through it (however grateful they are for the money)would be insupportable.

Tomorrow we're playing games at a friend's house and bringing stuff to cook while there.
Patricia Braypbray on November 22nd, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
The focus on stuff is appalling.

Luckily for me, my friends here celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday, to accommodate those who spend Thursday with relatives. So on Friday the only retail shopping I'll be doing is a quick grocery run if we've forgotten something.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )