Editor vs. Editor: Buy Nothing Day? What’s that?
Chitha: Hey, did you hear what happened on Friday?
Jenn: November 23rd Black Friday, you mean? (Black Friday occurs the Friday after every Thanksgiving in the US. It does not occur in Canada.)
Chitha: Yeah. Someone died that day at Walmart in the US because the crowds surged through the doors and trampled over one of the poor workers.
Jenn: Yeah, I heard. My teacher was talking about it in class today too.
Chitha: Oh? What did they say?
Jenn: Something about the crowds’ attitude when they evacuated the store – that they were actually indifferent about the death of the worker, but angry at not being able to complete their shopping because of it after waiting in line for so long. That was about it though.
Chitha: Really? What’s wrong with them?!? Is shopping really more important to those people?
Then again, there are so many awesome deals – how can you not get in on it?
Jenn: It’s easy. I mean, the idea of a day totally dedicated to shopping is just evil. It’s consumption at its worst. Some one died for crying out loud. To counter the massive consumerism that occurs on Black Friday, the anti-consumerist magazine, AdBusters, has been putting on an activist event, “Buy Nothing Day” (BND), for over a decade. It also occurs internationally on the Saturday after.
Chitha: Yeah, I did that last year! Except it’s not as big in Canada; in the US, people organize mini rallies on Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day. For example, “Whirl-Mart” is this thing where people take all the shopping carts, line them up, and walk around with them. Another one is called “Zombie Walk,” where people walk around with empty bags in malls and stare at crazed shoppers. Anybody can participate by simply not buying anything.
Jenn: Mhmm… you know if those people hadn’t gotten sucked into the madness that is Black Friday – and instead, participated in Buy Nothing Day – that person maybe wouldn’t have died. It’s like the time that woman died from trying to win a Wii console by drinking too much water. The stupidest things that people end up dying for…
Chitha: True. The other thing is that people argue over the use of Buy Nothing Day. What is the point? Do people really think that not buying anything for one day will really take down the capitalistic system?
Jenn: Of course not. It’s too big and would require everyone on the face of the planet permanently and simultaneously changing their lifestyle. So I think it’s more about awareness, and making people think about their actions. Taking a one day stand is just a way of showing others that life isn’t all about just buying things… that people are not slaves to materialism, and that we can change our ways if we really choose to.
Chitha: I think their intent is good, but obviously we can’t just stop. Even if we stopped buying all the things we “wanted,” we still have to buy food to feed ourselves after all.
Jenn: Which is why you buy locally – it’s not about not spending altogether, but spending wisely and reducing how much we do consume. There is this group called “The Compact” – one member hasn’t bought anything in two years (not including food). Google it.
Chitha: Hmm… you make a good point. It is human consumption that is the cause of poverty, war, economic recessions, global warming… pretty much all of the problems of the world…
Jenn: And then you have Christmas coming up – so much waste is going to be created just from wrapping paper alone.
Chitha: I don’t even know what Christmas is about anymore. People should really spend time with their families rather than focusing on buying gifts that they may not need. This all sounds like common sense, but the truth is, gifts and presents don’t make people happy. Thoughtfulness and caring for other people does.
Jenn: I think it’s perfectly fine to give gifts to people every once in a while, but tying this back into Buy Nothing Day, we need to cut down on our consumerism and to reduce our waste. We need to start looking at the bigger picture and realizing that little things, little actions, collectively, mean the difference between someone being trampled to death and someone dying for a cause.
Chitha: Hmm, you know there’s this quote on my english literature teacher’s wall… it reads, “If people demanded peace instead of another television set, then we’d have peace.” – John Lennon.