This morning Americans across the country arose at ungodly hours, braving the dark, cold, and unruly crowds all in the name of SHOPPING. Each year Black Friday marks the upcoming holiday season with a day full of frenzied shopping, and the infamous event has become as synonymous with Thanksgiving weekend as turkey itself. While some will spend the day trolling the malls for deals, thankfully there are more than a handful of people (like us!) who are just saying “NO” to excessive consumerism and spending the day doing more wholesome activities for Buy Nothing Day. Buy Nothing is a non-profit organization initiated by Canadian Mennonites 20 years ago, inspiring people all over the world to say no to just say no to Black Friday. This year AdBusters is taking the organization’s work to the next level, going global with a full-fledged campaign asking citizens to not only stop shopping on Black Friday, but to #OCCUPYXMAS and not purchase anything for the holidays at all. Are you up to the challenge?
Currently 20% of the world’s population is consuming over 80% of the earth’s natural resources, and the developing population making those goods you’re purchasing are likely doing so under unfair or downright harrowing working conditions. Consuming less is not only better for the environment, but helps the fight against unjust labor practices and an uneven distribution of wealth.
And while buying cool stuff at markdown prices may seem like a great deal, the reality is that Black Friday encourages you to spend your hard earned cash on materials things you normally wouldn’t. In 2010 consumers spent an estimated $648 million on Black Friday, up 9% from 2009. Cyber Monday reached $1.028 billion in online spending in 2010, a figure up a huge 16% from 2009. Moreover, market research shows that most people overextend their budget because they are more susceptible to impulse buys and the psychology behind the “limited” or “exclusive” deal that tricks them into busting out their wallets before its too late. Consumer Reports notes that about 14.1 million adults are still carrying debt from the 2010 holiday season – a frightening fact.
This year AdBusters has decided to take a cue from the Occupy Wall Street movement, launching an all-out offensive to unseat to stop excess consumerism during the holidays. Holding close to the thought behind Buy Nothing Day, AdBusters suggest that we stop this crazed spending altogether, instead getting involved with the community and starting “flash mobs, consumer fasts, mall sit-ins, community events, credit card-ups, whirly-marts and jams, jams, jams!” Or, in other words, to take a stand.
While this may be right up your alley, for the more timid, there are also a slew of other things that can be done to curb your consumption habits. Buying nothing doesn’t necessarily mean boycotting the holidays or not enjoying all the good things they include, like dining with your family, or going ice skating with your friends. These campaigns simply ask you to consider your spending habits in a greater context and how they impact our social, environmental and political landscape. Giving is still a great way to show your love for family and friends, but it doesn’t require a credit card — your time and consideration are worth a lot more than a flat screen TV.