Occupy Buy Nothing Day – the alternative to Black Friday

Actor Bill Talen, as the Rev. Billy, preaches December 8, 2005, against consumerism outside a store front on Michigan Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois. ZBIGNIEW BZDAK/CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Rachel Garcia

The Guardsman

For many, Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate the things that truly matter in life.  So what better way to spend the day after it than by participating in a melee of rampant consumerism…

Or not.

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, kicks off the Christmas shopping season and is one of the busiest shopping day of the year with many retailers opening their doors at unusually early hours and holding massive sales.

Black Friday is also famous for news of multiple deaths and injuries resulting from trampling or fights between customers.

The non-profit organization and Canadian magazine “Adbusters” suggests a change. They want to turn this spiritless and frantic day into a time to gather with loved ones and enjoy friendship.

They advocate turning Nov. 25 from Black Friday into Buy Nothing Day.

Buy Nothing Day was coined in 1992 by Ted Dave, a Canadian activist, who wanted to reveal the damaging effects of over-consumerism.  Adbusters, the same organization that started Occupy Wall Street, are now the lead promoters.

Now that more and more Occupy supporters are surfacing and Americans are openly discussing financial over-extension, will Buy Nothing Day be more widely embraced in 2011?

Roxanne Gonzalez, a luxury retail manager, says no.  “I think people care more about discounts then listening to protesters, they’d rather get a deal that pertains to themselves,” she said.  “I only think the people that are protesting are going to be the ones who are going to act on it.”

Reverend Billy, a political activist and actor, disagrees saying, “Yes, the Occupy Wall Street movement is so famously not shopping.”

Reverend Billy and his Church of Earthalujah, a “post-religious political church” whose mission is to snap people out of consumerism and back into being human, are using Nov. 25 to celebrate “buylessness,” “localness” and the First Amendment, according to their website.

Billy says that Buy Nothing Day’s main point is “Only the obvious: that going into debt at Christmas is not a way to try to be happy; that the consumer society is a bad way to organize society; that the polluting big box earth-destroying sweatshop culture must be replaced by local, more compassionate economies.”

Billy suggests dedicating the five days leading up to Thanksgiving to staying “away from the product”: shopping at only mom-and-pop shops, making homemade DIY things, buying fair trade coffee, and telling off a corporation.

This all leads up to Friday, Nov. 25, or Buy Nothing Day, when Billy’s church will host a “Dance Your Debt Away” party in New York City’s Union Square and the Parade of Angels which will feature protesters in wings marching to the banks, showing their displeasure with corporate consumer campaigns.

Adbusters is aware that many people might find a whole day without purchasing difficult, but urges a simple compromise: awareness-consumption.  If you choose to still participate in consumerism that day, Adbusters recommends that you at least “buy local, buy fairer, buy indie.”

For those who want to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, Adbusters recommends giving friends and family a “gift exemption card,” asking shoppers “What Would Jesus Buy?” or dressing as Santa Claus and meditating in the middle of a shopping center.  The website buynothingchristmas.org lists all of their suggestions.

Greg, an occupier at the Embarcadero camp, said, “I’ve been buying nothing.  We live off donations.  But not everyone is going to go to the extreme.  If they decide to participate just for one day, that’s fine by me.”

A network of activists with a website meetup.com/Buy-Nothing-Day are promoting a carnivalesque rebellion with the intent to shut down consumer-capitalism for a week. The website buynothingday.org describes it as a “special day to unshop, unspend and unwind.  Relax and do nothing for the economy and for yourself – at least for a single day.”


Comments are closed.

The Guardsman