As mobs of shoppers hit stores for Black Friday deals on Friday, some people will opt to stay at home as part of the international campaign "Buy Nothing Day." The day launched in 1992 as a protest against consumerism and the holiday shopping madness.
Founded in Canada, Buy Nothing Day is marked the day after American Thanksgiving with demonstrations across the world. In some countries, such as Australia, zombie walks are organized to mock the Black Friday frenzy. Anti-consumerism magazine AdBusters suggests holding credit card cut-up protests or "whirl-marts" at which protesters "silently drive your shopping carts around in a long, inexplicable conga line without ever actually buying anything."
"Since the early 1990s, Buy Nothing Day has inspired worldwide personal and collective action against consumerism," AdBusters writes about the campaign. "Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your habits for one day, it is about rediscovering what it means to live freely."
— Shane Claiborne (@ShaneClaiborne) November 21, 2015
Aiden Enns, editor of Geez magazine, argues that the campaign allows people to re-evaluate the meaning of the holidays. "Buying things and throwing them out is absurd. The spirit of Christmas isn't shopping," he said. "It's life, love, joy, that kind of thing. I'm trying to live into a better way of being that is more harmonious with the Earth and the humans on it."
More than 60 countries participate in the anti-consumerism day, with more than 1 million people celebrating worldwide, according to Adbusters Editor-in-Chief Kalle Lasn, who founded the day.
"Of course it feels good that after all this time people are finally starting to get it," Lasn said in a 2011 interview. "But there is also a darkness underpinning that good feeling. It sounds apocalyptic, but I have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that the economic pain people are going through is just the beginning. If that's right, then we will really see the young people of the world stand up in a way that is many times bigger than they have up until now. We need to find ways to capture the imagination of the rest of the world. If we can do that, then I believe this movement may well pull off some incredible radical transformation that needs to happen to make the future of our planet work."