Buy Nothing Day. Have you heard of it?
If you haven't, the quick answer is that it is a day, usually the friday after American Thanksgiving, wherein you choose not to purchase anything. In doing so, you are protesting consumerism. Some would say that the day also "raises awareness" of the pitfalls of consumerism.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is known in the US as "Black Friday". To Canadians, we could really only compare it to Boxing day sales - our Christmas season starts after Halloween, so the Christmas rush has a slower start here, more gradual. Black Friday in the US is the offical start to the holiday shopping season, and it is on this day that the protesters have chosen to protest. The busiest shopping day of the year.
I have a lot of problems with the concept behind Buy Nothing Day.
Firstly, it is impossible for me to buy nothing. If I want to work, I have to buy gas. I also have to have auto insurance and home insurance and mortgage insurance, etc. Just some daily costs of living. However, there are plenty of others who simply couldn't buy anything at all. In contrast to myself, they are unable to participate in the consumerist society. It is very unfortunate. So, what exactly am I raising awareness about? How middle class I am? That I could buy anything that I want but I'm choosing not to? What value does that have?
Let's look at my lifestyle: Besides the things that just have to be purchased, like my gas, I also need to eat. I guess I could fast for Buy Nothing Day, but that seems to be unfair. Am I raising awareness about hunger and how mean I can get after six hours without food? Or am I protesting consumerism? Does food count? There are people who couldn't even buy food if they wanted to. Wouldn't it be better if I bought someone else something? What about Buy Someone Poor Something to Eat Day?
Not only is it insulting to not buy something for one day in protest, only to turn around and buy it the next day (or day previous), it's hypocritical. As such, I think if you really want to protest consumerism, you should do it in an authentic way. Perhaps giving some of your worldly posessions to charity would be a good idea. Donating some of your work wardrobe to an organization that helps young women find jobs. How about you hold a yard sale, sell your stuff, and then give the money away? That would be fighting consumerism. After all, consumerism is wrapped up in how your things make you feel. For me, my shoes make me feel good. Also my lingerie. What things in your life make you feel good. And could you do without them?
My job is in the wholesale business, so consumerism pays my bills. It keeps me in a nice home, and allows me to live a luxury lifestyle - not compared to television - but compared to the world. For me to not buy something, for one day, does not protest the world we have created with our North American capitalism. It also protests my own life and existence. It does not fix anything for anyone anywhere.
Raising awareness is one thing. Actually doing something? Much better.