Sunday, November 19, 2017

Looking Ahead to Buy Nothing Day

Since I was in university over 20 years ago, I have been an enthusiastic participant in Buy Nothing Day.  Founded in Vancouver in 1992, Buy Nothing Day is a day on which people are encouraged to literally buy nothing as a way of reflecting on the negative aspects of our consumer society.  Not coincidentally, in the United States it is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when many people are rushing out to the stores (and sometimes killing each other) to get a start on their Christmas/Hanukkah shopping.

I love Buy Nothing Day because I think it is all too easy to get caught up in the message that holidays are about things.  Giving the best gifts, serving the fanciest foods, and having the most festively decorated home.  And while none of those things are inherently bad (especially not the fancy food), every one of them requires an investment of time and energy and comes at the expense of other activities.  If you're out pepper spraying someone to get a deal on video games, then you aren't at home playing video games with your family.

For me, Buy Nothing Day is another reminder to be mindful.  To think about what is important to me in life and especially during the holidays, rather than just taking directions from advertisements and the dominant culture.  Over the years, I've decided to reduce my gift giving, because I don't want more things in my apartment, and because I prefer time with my family to time in the mall.  I was reminded of how ridiculous gift giving can be last weekend when I decluttered a huge portion of my apartment, as many of the things I got rid of were things that had been gifted to me.  Huge expenditures of time and money had gone into things that I ended up leaving in my apartment lobby for other people to take.

I'm really excited this year to have a full 9 days off over the holidays, which hasn't happened since my last year of medical school in 2009.  I could use some of my abundant time off to do more Christmas decorating and shop for Christmas gifts...but there is zero of me that wants to do that.  I want to hang out with my nieces and have games days with friends and eat appetizers with my Mom.  To me, these are the things that make a holiday.  Not anything that I can buy on Buy Nothing Day.

(Edited to add:  Ten days!  I actually have 10 days!  I didn't realize that the Monday (January 1) was a holiday too.  WOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!)

9 comments:

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    1. I think it's up to the individual. I do my best to buy nothing at all, but a year or two ago I went to perogie night at a local church.

      I also just realized that I made plans to go for dinner with friends that night. /bang head on table Oops.

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  2. I love Buy Nothing Day too! And I am TRYING, when I do buy actual gifts, to at least get them locally and not from Amazon. But it's hard. The internet - so convenient!

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    1. Yay! Another Buy Nothing Day person! I am feeling really annoyed with myself for not remembering Buy Nothing Day when I made plans to go out with friends. And it took me a month to make these plans, so I can't really change them now. So I'm going to celebrate Buy Nothing Day on the European day (the 25th). I'll just tell myself it's because I'm so cultured.

      I also try to buy local gifts. There is a huge local bookstore close to where I live, so I basically just get all of my gifts there. I've kind of stopped caring whether people really like the gifts I give. (Maybe this is why people have agreed to stop exchanging gifts?)

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  3. I try to do a "Buy Nothing Day" once every week. I don't always stick to it (hello, new carport), but I try to not spend money every day. I also try to not use my vehicle two days per week - which should be me biking to work or bussing twice a week but sometimes is more just an excuse to not go anywhere on the weekends.

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    1. That's awesome! I typically spend very little on weekdays, because I'm mostly working and hanging out at home, but weekends can be spendy days for me. Maybe I should have one no spend weekend day per week.

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  4. I always work on Black Friday. I hate shopping and crowds and I love the idea that I'm at work making money while everyone else is out spending it. Plus, the workplace is deadsville and so wonderfully quiet and I can eat my Thanksgiving leftovers in peace!

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    1. Sounds like a lesson in how to get ahead in life. And you don't need to worry about anyone stealing your sandwich!

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