Friday is Black Friday—a day I would love to erase from the calendar. Why? Because it’s symbolic of the out-of-control consumption that is taking over our world. In addition to harming our bank balances, overconsumption impacts our mental health and it’s destroying the planet. But there is an alternative! Friday is also Buy Nothing Day.
Gratitude turns to chaos
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday. Over the years, I’ve had many Americans ask me how Canadian Thanksgiving that we celebrate in October is different from American Thanksgiving. I usually respond that the premise of the holiday is the same and the traditional Thanksgiving meal is similar on both sides of the border. However, our Canadian Thanksgiving celebration doesn’t involve football and we don’t spend the day planning Black Friday shopping strategies.
I’ve always felt like Black Friday is such a contradiction. After a day of thanksgiving and gratitude, many Americans get up in the wee hours of the next morning to do battle in the malls and big box stores.
Sadly, over the years Black Friday has spread to Canada. I was even surprised to see ads for Black Friday sales during my recent trip to England.
Images of people resorting to physical violence to get a great deal on the latest electronic gadget symbolize the western world’s obsession with consumption.
The problem with consumption
You don’t have to look too hard to see other signs that consumption is out of control in a world driven by greed and capitalism. We are using up the Earth’s resources at an alarming rate.
Earlier this year, I read the book The Day the World Stops Shopping by J.B. Mackinnon. It’s an eye-opening read that provides a sobering look at how global consumption has escalated over the years, especially in rich countries where we consume 13 times as much as poor countries.
What’s even more interesting is how quickly consumption has increased. Reducing global consumption by 25% would result in economic devastation, yet it would only take us back ten years in terms of spending levels. It makes me wonder how we got here, and what we can do about it.
It’s time to say no to advertisers and influencers and get back to a simpler, more sustainable way of life. Buy Nothing Day is a great day to start.
What is Buy Nothing Day?
Buy Nothing Day originated in Vancouver in September 1992. Artist Ted Dave started it as a protest against consumerism. In 1997, the date moved to Black Friday—the biggest single shopping day of the year in the United States.
The movement caught on. Today, more than 65 countries around the world mark Buy Nothing Day with everything from zombie mall walks, organized protests and marches, to just simply buying nothing.
So, instead of rushing to the mall on Friday, take the day to prolong that feel-good Thanksgiving vibe. Think about ways to make this holiday season meaningful that don’t involve shopping or unnecessary buying. If you need a little more motivation to reduce your spending, consider that a 2022 survey by Finder revealed Americans spend over $8 Billion on unwanted holiday gifts every year.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. More importantly, I wish you an even happier Buy Nothing Day!
With a little thought, this Friday could be the start of a new commitment to simple living and a more purposeful and less materialistic way of life.