The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been the busiest shopping day of the year. Millions of people cram themselves into malls and stores across the country to start their Christmas shopping, but many activists are challenging everyone to put down their credit cards and buy nothing on November 26.
Buy Nothing Day was founded in 1991 by a number of small activist groups on the Pacific coast, in places such as Seattle and Vancouver, who believed there was a lack of critism of consumerism. In 1994, Buy Nothing Day hit the Internet and really took hold. Now groups all over the world in places like the US, Japan and the UK now celebrate the day.
[buy]One of the major supporters of Buy Nothing Day is Adbusters Media Foundation. Founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn, Adbusters works through its magazine and Web site to change the way people live. The foundation focuses on political, corporate, ecological, and psychological change and supports a number of different movements like TV Turnoff Week and Unbrand America.
Tim Walker, the campaign manager for Adbusters, said he thinks that mindless consumerism needs to change. He said he wants people to start thinking more closely about the decisions they make while shopping.
“Everyday there are 3,000 ads rammed into our heads,” Walker said. “In the back of people’s heads, they know something is wrong. This is a great way to celebrate it.”
Walker said most people find out about Buy Nothing Day through word of mouth. People tell their friends, family and even coworkers.
“Most of it is grass roots action,” he said.
There are different ways of celebrating Buy Nothing Day. The most obvious one is to abstain from buying anything in the specified 24 hour span. Some people are planning more creative ways to protest consumerism, such as passing out flyers, making up skits to perform outside of malls, or buying a cart full of merchandise only to return it immediately over and over again. Walker said one group in Orlando plans to bring mirrors to a mall to show shoppers how consumerism has possessed them.
In Detroit, a number of activists, such as James Stephan, are also working to put together efforts to support the day. Stephan said he supports Buy Nothing Day because “rampant consumerism and commercialization of sacred holidays has taken over our culture.”
“Buy nothing day shouldn’t be once a year, it is a way of life,” he said. “The idea is to live by what you need, not compulsively buy things you want.”
Another Detroit activist, Thomas Trent, said people need to work harder this year to make this campaign more well-known. He said he might distribute flyers in parking lots and shopping malls to get the message out.
“All we can really hope for this year is to build momentum,” he said. We need to change people’s minds. We need to get people to think about why they shop ’til they drop.”
If you would like to learn more about Buy Nothing Day or want to get involved, visit the Adbusters’ website at www.adbusters.org .
To quench your thirst for anti-consumerism, sing along to this rewrite of the famous Christmas carol, written by Ohio song writer Tony Beres:
Silent Night, corporate might, third world plight, they don’t care bout human rights,
Pollute the sky destroy the earth, kids with cancer before their birth,
Don’t support their greed don’t support their greed.
Deadly fight, stockings stuffed tight, what’s become of holy night
Pray for justice pray for peace, Let’s bring (famous chain store) to its knees
Don’t support their greed, don’t support their greed.

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