I don’t usually do blog posts two days in a row, but a letter to the editor in our local morning paper made me decide to make an exception. Its message is so worth sharing. Full credit to its author, Tom Reddin. Why had I never heard of Buy Nothing Day? Here’s the letter:
Today is Buy Nothing Day
Today, the day after American Thanksgiving, is known as Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protest against consumerism. The things we buy can often have a big environmental impact, and in our present “climate emergency”, we must face the ethical consequences.
In our “developed” countries, 20 percent of the world’s population consume over 80 percent of the earth’s natural resources, so our economy has to quickly transform away from gross consumerism and our reliance on a growing gross domestic product.
Buy Nothing Day means ignoring the Black Friday sales and online purchases, and reflecting on our daily spending habits.
Various public protests have been used on Buy Nothing Day to draw attention to the problem of over-consumption, e.g., Zombie walks around a shopping mall or ‘Whirl-Marts’ of silently steering shopping carts in a long ‘Buy Nothing’ line. Some people will not only not buy anything, but also not drive their car, and keep televisions, computers and other non-essential appliances turned off for 24 hours.
Sierra Club Atlantic Canada Chapter encourages residents to consider a “Buy Nothing Day Walkaway” by getting outside for a walk to celebrate the great outdoors, while walking away from consumerism and unnecessary shopping.
The message behind Buy Nothing Day is far more than a day protesting consumerism; it can be the start of a new lifestyle for citizens, and a societal change to lessen our impact on our precious, beautiful earth.
Co-chair, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada Chapter
So, what do you think?! I googled Buy Nothing Day and discovered that this movement first started way back in 1992 in Vancouver and now, apparently, is “celebrated” in 65 countries. Since I hadn’t heard of it until now, I’m thinking that the movement hasn’t moved as far as it would have liked!
That having been said, we should all be concerned that the economies of our “developed” countries seem to rely almost entirely on encouraging us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have. Isn’t that what led to the crash of 2007-8? Has anything changed? For those of us older boomers, who are being blamed for everything (and considering that I am the same age as Trump, Clinton, and George W, there are some things we should be blamed for), when we started our adult lives the first credit card – American Express – was just starting to appear. You needed to have an established credit rating (job, mortgage, references) in order to apply for one. In that kind of environment, you thought about your purchases in advance and bought what you could afford. Boy, has that changed. Decades later, banks were plying unemployed students on college campuses with promos to obtain their own credit cards. Sorry, but who is claiming responsibility for that? No-one any longer asks, “Can I afford that?” before purchasing. It’s a scary, slippery slope. And our economies are relying on that “strategy” to keep “growing”!
So, on Black Friday, and also on Buy Nothing Day, maybe we should at least be working hard to be responsible consumers. Buy what you need and what you can afford, period, and get some great deals within those parameters on Black Friday!
Thanks to Tom Reddin of the Sierra Club in PEI for giving me some food for thought this morning. Fortunately, I have no reason to join the crowd at the Black Friday sales!