Today is Black Friday, also known as the day where people throng the stores right after the day we are supposed to give thanks for what we already have. A bit of a cacophonous occasion and a celebration of consumer culture, Black Friday has historically been disdained by folks concerned about the environmental and social impacts of triple-packaged plastic baubles and knickknacks produced in sweatshops all the way across the world. But in a culture which values buying things as a measure of proving how much you love your friends and family, how do we deal with the manifold problems inherent in this day, and the culture itself?
Buy Nothing Day is a campaign founded right here in Vancouver and brought to prominence by Adbusters, the anti-consumption and environmental magazine, as the antithesis of Black Friday. It’s a campaign which challenges us to resist the call for excessive consumption that Black Friday sends out and instead buy absolutely nothing on this day. Its effectiveness has been at once described as great and minor, depending on who’s talking, but the symbolic action lends us to start the conversation within and among ourselves about why Black Friday exists in the first place, why our culture values purchasing and buying goods so much, and how we can move away from a wasteful and consumptive paradigm, into an Earth-friendly, balanced, sustainable and valuable paradigm that benefits everyone and leaves out no one.
So on this Black Friday after Thanksgiving, will you rise to the challenge?
Will you buy nothing today?