Monday, November 17, 2008

What Will You do on Buy Nothing Day?

Have you heard about Buy Nothing Day? It's a campaign aimed to get consumers to buy nothing for one whole day. Here in the U.S. that day is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. In most of the rest of the world it's the following day.

The point of Buy Nothing Day is to get consumers to think about how their buying habits effect the environment. We consume our natural resources faster than the planet can replenish them. We are the worse offenders of this in the U.S. The majority of what we buy ends up in the trash. Landfills are full, the Pacific Ocean has a "continent-sized stew of toxic trash" swirling around in it. Our consumerist behaviors are destroying the planet. So many environmentalists are urging people to participate in Buy Nothing Day.

In the past two months, it seems that many people have been participating in a "Buy Nothing Season" as our consumer index plummets. In this economy, people have stopped spending. Good for the environment. Bad for the economy.

My husband and I had the opportunity to go away for the weekend. We spent Sunday morning lounging around our hotel room and watching TV. We jokingly call it living like the heathens. Usually on Sunday, we're in church all morning, but a couple of weekends a year we get away, and enjoy coffee and newspapers in bed. Wow, the news on every channel was about the economy. How bad it is. How much people aren't spending. How the government is handling it. How the merchants are already slashing their prices so low that you don't have to wait until the last minute to get good deals. There are amazing deals now.

So what do you do? Buy nothing and help the environment or take advantage of these great sales and help the economy?

I say neither. I don't have a problem with Buy Nothing Day, but really it's just symbolic. Most people, if they are going to abstain from buying on Black Friday, will still buy holiday gifts at some point throughout the season. So if you're crazy enough to go out there at 3AM the day after Thanksgiving (and you my fabulous friend I've had since kindergarten know I'm talking to you!) then have a blast. 

But have a list and stick to your list. Don't buy an item you weren't intending on buying just because it's 50% off. Don't feel responsible for single handedly reviving the economy. There are so many reasons the economy is crap right now. Buying stuff is not going to fix it. It didn't fix it when we all got those checks from the government. It only temporarily delayed the inevitable. 

Here's what I'm going to do. 
  • I'm not going to shop on Black Friday because I never shop that day. I don't enjoy it. 
  • I'm going to make a list of everyone I want to give gifts to. And I'm going to give them gifts. 
  • I'm going to try to give eco-friendly gifts where I can. 
  • I'm going to make a smaller pile under the tree for my boys because all of the little things I end up buying just to make their piles look better never get played with. 
  • I'm going to spend within my means and if the GNP plummets because of it, so be it.
  • I'm going to try to move away from the consumerism of the holiday and find meaningful ways to bring the birth of Jesus back to the forefront for my family.
  • I'm going to be patient with all of those (including my own family members) who aren't ready to be less consumeristic yet.
  • I'm going to give - give to Thanksgiving basket drives, and toys for less fortunate kids drives, and our local Wish Tree drive. 
What are you going to do on Buy Nothing Day? What are you going to do during this holiday season? 

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1 comment:

CrunchyChristianMama said...

For the holidays I am going to give gifts that I think are suited to each person and in little ways better for the earth. First, some on my list are getting "green cleaning" baskets. I will fill a wash bucket with baking soda, vinegar, lemons and some other natural cleaning products along with a sheet of instructions for how to make use of them. Second, I have already found some "like new" gifts from resale shops that are replacement pieces for my MIL's hard to find cookware. Also, for my veggie SIL I purchased a flash drive and compiled a paperless cookbook with some great vegetarian dishes that she will enjoy cooking. There is still some space left on the drive so she can add her favorites as well. These gifts cut down on the amount of waste I generate during the holidays as well as tailor the gifts to the recipients likes/needs. One more thing, I WILL NOT use wrapping paper. I have collected a large stash of gift bags over the years and as in the case of one of my gifts, some are too large for this. When a gift is too big to bag, I place a note under the tree and send the recipient on a little hunt for their gift. It adds some fun and saves some trees.