National Buy Nothing Day

Today is National Buy Nothing Day.

National Buy Nothing Day one of the campaigns promoted by Adbusters. Adbusters is a media organization and magazine that supports social activism aimed at combating the destructive forces inherent in capitalism. Much of this effort is a focused on waging "meme warfare" against mindless consumerism. National Buy Nothing Day is an example of this.

In an attempt to push back on the frantic shopping going on today--Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, a day my preacher described as "the most dangerous day of the year for Christians"--National Buy Nothing Day goes against the flow by asking participants to opt out of the mass consumerism. Stay away from the malls, Walmarts, and department stores.

And if you want to do more than opt out Adbusters encourages a variety of culture jamming activities. A list of activities from Wikipedia that people have done for National Buy Nothing Day:
  • Credit card cut up: Participants stand in a shopping mall, shopping center, or store with a pair of scissors and a poster that advertises help for people who want to put an end to mounting debt and extortionate interest rates with one simple cut.
  • Zombie walk: Participant "zombies" wander around shopping malls or other consumer havens with a blank stare. When asked what they are doing participants describe Buy Nothing Day.
  • Whirl-mart: Participants silently steer their shopping carts around a shopping mall or store in a long, baffling conga line without putting anything in the carts or actually making any purchases.
  • Wildcat General Strike: A strategy used for the 2009 Buy Nothing Day where participants not only do not buy anything for twenty-four hours but also keep their lights, televisions, computers and other non-essential appliances turned off, their cars parked, and their phones turned off or unplugged from sunrise to sunset.
  • Buy Nothing Day hike: Rather than celebrating consumerism by shopping, participants celebrate The Earth and nature.
Beyond campaigns like National Buy Nothing Day Adbusters is also a resource for subvertising, another example of their culture jamming, meme warfare with capitalism, materialism, and consumerism. Some examples of Adbusters subversive advertising:

Homo Shopus: The final stage in our evolution.
The Corporate American Flag
 More of this subversive advertising can be found here at the Adbusters site.

And you can actually buy the Corporate American Flag to carry or fly here.

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5 thoughts on “National Buy Nothing Day”

  1. Well, I found an old credit from a used book store, so I went there today. Still have nearly $40 in credit, so that's all right.

  2. Nice!

    Jana, my wife, was laughing at me today. She was standing in a long line at a store buying a present for her sister. Waiting in line she pulled up this post about consumerism. She had a good laugh at the juxtaposition, reading this post while standing in a Black Friday line. At least she didn't dress up like a zombie to go shopping today. But she's a drama teacher, so I wouldn't put it past her. :-)

  3. I think something is profoundly wrong with Adbusters. While I'm perfectly comfortable with legitimate critiques of Israeli public policy, they dipped into real-live anti-semitism with a rather chilling piece in 2004, and I don't think they have ever retracted or apologized for it. I can't help but see a lot of their other projects as also bearing the marks of the 'socialism of fools'.

    In a somewhat parallel way, I'm a big fan of living simply and frugally, in order to create space in our lives and our budgets to give. However, particularly in a depressed economy, I think the 'buy nothing' idea is misplaced and I think it creates a certain sense of futility and nihilism. Whenever I am exposed to Adbusters, I usually rush to my favorite antidote: Hans Rosling. In so many ways, things are getting better, and the primary problem with the global economy is that we (globally) aren't consuming enough (meaning we have huge capacity to provide for the needs of the poor, if we choose to).

  4. We don't have Black Friday in Australia, but those activities sound like something we could do on Boxing Day(the after christmas).

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