Don’t Just Buy Less. Buy Nothing.

This holiday season, try something new for your shopping list. Buy nothing.

Holiday shopping is out of control. With Black Friday kick-starting the mayhem during America’s thanksgiving weekend, holiday sales and aggressive marketing campaigns lasting throughout the entire month of December, and post-holiday Boxing Day sales continuing for weeks afterwards, the consumer industry has managed to create one of the largest, the most aggressive, and lengthy shopping sprees of the year.

In America (since Canadian thanksgiving is celebrated weeks earlier), how is it that one holiday got roped into the next anyway? Instead of enjoying what’s meant to be a weekend of ‘giving thanks’ and spending time with loved ones, Americans are racing to the malls. Thanksgiving alone is a holiday that manages to consistently ignore its true origins, and according to 4-time NBA Champion John Salley, who commented on Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life website—supports some serious cruelty:

“Turkeys are among the most abused animals on earth. The horrors these smart, sensitive birds routinely endure behind closed doors on our nation’s factory farms, all so that their tortured bodies can be the centerpiece of a holiday celebration about gratitude, are appalling and incongruent with most Americans’ values of compassion.”

Somehow, two holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas, specifically) linked to the spirit of giving, joy, and time with loved ones, have become the most uncompassionate holidays of all.

I recall the days of shopping only a few days before Christmas years ago, and things were busy in a bustling, cheerful way, but not insane. People didn’t push and shove, die in mobs of shoppers, or pepper spray one another to get past the line.

I imagine that in the old days, people strolled down lantern-lit downtown sidewalks, tipping their hats in warm greeting as they passed one another, skating on public ice rinks with their children or friends, sledding, and enjoying warm cups of hot chocolate by a real fireplace. Perhaps people made a habit of visiting shelters as well, and organizing efforts to help the less fortunate. Much of this continues today, but it’s not mainstream, and it’s overshadowed by an anxious frenzy to get the best deals. We have gas or electric fireplaces, or worse, digital-versions of them. People don’t bother to say hello to one another, because everyone’s either rushing to their next destination, afraid to make eye contact, or buried in their smartphone. I saw an ad for the Android recently on a subway, and the tagline read, “Eye Candy, not Contact”. Stating in the open how much we’d prefer to look at a pretty phone over one another.

A holiday is not supposed to be stressful, and your loved ones won’t love you less (and how dare they if they did!) if you opt not to buy them the newest iPhone on the market.  Gift expectations have gotten staggeringly high, and no one can keep up anymore. Most importantly, the earth can’t keep up with our consumptive sprawl, and it’s a slap in the face to those around the world that can’t even afford to eat. That’s why it’s time to give it all up, and #OCCUPYXMAS.

As Adbusters puts it:

“Historically, Buy Nothing Day has been about fasting from hyper consumerism – a break from the cash register and reflecting on how dependent we really are on conspicuous consumption. On this 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day, we take it to the next level, marrying it with the message of #occupy…We #OCCUPYXMAS”.

So this holiday, try something new, and try buying nothing at all.

Enjoy this old relic we love of a CNN interview with Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters on the origins of Buy Nothing Day.

(Original Image from Adbusters)

1 comment to “Don’t Just Buy Less. Buy Nothing.”

  • Rebecca, December 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    How did a holiday meant as a forum for us to be thankful for what we DO have turn into a forum for us to acquire MORE than what we have?