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