Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buy Nothing Day

This holiday season, if you're too embarrassed to tell your friends and family that you are now so broke that you can no longer afford to buy crap they don't want anyway, just tell them you are Occupying Christmas. This tactic will work even if you are not part of the bona fide 33 Percent Poverty Passel: it is now chic to be anti-consumerist.  For the first time in my memory, there is a widespread backlash against Black Friday. Yes! Bust the door-busters! Boycott Best Buy!

And this year, it's even worse, because Black Friday is morphing into Tawdry Thursday: stores are opening on Thanksgiving night in order to beat out the competition. It's the apogee of the insidious Christmas creep that now starts before Halloween.  Shopaholics are justifying cutting the sacred family mealtime short by characterizing the early retail feeding frenzy as the beginning of a new all-American tradition. Instead of schmoozing over the pumpkin pie, suggests retail analyst Olivier Rubel, park yourselves in the Walmart parking lot for some real family together time. The big box stores are counting on you.

 "People like to shop," he told The Sacramento Bee. "When stores are open longer, more people can come to find deals or discounts. Stores are just lengthening the time of a promotion, which will increase the volume of sales."

(Rubel is also a professor at the UC-Davis Graduate School of Management. So double-kudos to the student protestors on that campus!)

And now for the remedy. From AdBusters, the same fine publication that spread the word about the Original #OWS, comes your guide to Buy Nothing Day, the official start of OccupyXmas:
You've been sleeping on the streets for two months pleading peacefully for a new spirit in economics. And just as your camps are raided, your eyes pepper-sprayed and your head's knocked in, another group of people is preparing to camp out. Only these people aren't here to occupy Wall Street, they're here to secure their spot in line for a Black Friday bargain at Super Target and Macy's.
Occupy gave the world a new way of thinking about the fat cats and financial pirates on Wall Street. Now lets give them a new way of thinking about the holidays, about our own consumption habits. Let's use the coming 20th annual Buy Nothing Day to launch an all-out offensive to unseat the corporate kings on the holiday throne.
This year’s Black Friday will be the first campaign of the holiday season where we set the tone for a new type of holiday culminating with #OCCUPYXMAS. As the global protests of the 99% against corporate greed and casino capitalism continues, lets take the opportunity to hit the empire where it really hurts…the wallet.
On Nov 25/26th we escape the mayhem and unease of the biggest shopping day in North America and put the breaks on rabid consumerism for 24 hours. Flash mobs, consumer fasts, mall sit-ins, community events, credit card-ups, whirly-marts and jams, jams, jams! We don’t camp on the sidewalk for a reduced price tag on a flat screen TV or psycho-killer video game. Instead, we occupy the very paradigm that is fueling our eco, social and political decline.
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…
Shenanigans begin November 25!

(Poster Courtesy of Adbusters)

Shop locally this year even if it means buying less stuff. Support Main Street and screw Wall Street.


WestVillageGal said...

great piece, Karen.
as well, i have long felt identically about Thanksgiving, which i've negotiated *not* to "occupy" whenever possible:
an occasion of gluttony in the face of poverty and hunger (imho).
ideal activity for honoring this day (if not on others):
volunteering at a soup kitchen and/or distributing food on the streets (or in the subways) of New York.

Denis Neville said...

Corporate commercialization of Christmas [Black Friday and now Tawdry Thursday] is at its all time high.

Don’t lose the true meaning of Christmas by falling into the corporate gift buying trap.

Buy Nothing Day by unseating the corporate kings on the holiday throne.

As an alternative…

“Christmas Gift Suggestions” from Oren Arnold:

“To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

A reminder that we are supposed to be caring and loving for others all the time, not just during Christmas.

"Cat" will do said...

Here, Here!!! National strike!! when are we gonna get it??? stop buying.

Valerie said...

As a strong believer in peaceful means of protest I love the idea of the power of the boycott. As the Right is so quick to point out, if no one bought these cheap items which have a very large invisible human and environmental cost, the corporations would have to come up with a different strategy for making and selling their products. The problem is so many of us are real hypocrites when it comes to doing the right thing with our buying. We are seduced by cheap prices. We think, “How is it REALLY going to make a difference if I buy this (fill in the blank) made in a first world country and pay twice of three times as much money as the cheaper item? How will my single little purchase made a difference? Or I am on such a tight budget, if I had more money, I could afford to buy the better more expensive item” But boycotts start small – with each one of us.

Many of us can’t take part in a protest or are unwilling to be arrested, roughed up by the police or pepper sprayed in the face - but we CAN do our small part to support the movement by buying locally from small business, buying fair trade items, and buying less of the goods that are making the corporations rich.

gorehound13 said...

I am not buying anything.I am lucky to have not lost my Apartment in the cold days.The only thing I can now buy are the things I need to exist.
Lost my job where I had worked for 18 years in July.Still unemployed.Love watching how the rich create jobs...............
in China not here.

Rose in Michigan said...

I'll be buying only a few gifts for the truly important people in my life at my guild's (
annual sale on Saturday.
All the items for sale are high-quality, unique and handmade by local artists from handspun wool or other fibers. Many of these artists are also local farmers who raise sheep, alpacas or llamas, so the fiber is local as well. These items aren't cheap, but they're of a quality not seen very often these days by those of us in the 99%.
I think of it as win-win-win: since I haven't had time to make my gifts this year, I'll be supporting my fellow guild members, keeping my dollars local and giving something meaningful to my "special people."
Boycotting the big chains is icing on the cake!

Neil said...

A great place to shop is craiglist. You avoid the corporate chains, and support your local citizens, many of whom are selling their stuff to buy food. This morning I sold a chair on craigslist for $45. The money is already gone, $10 spent on gasoline for my 21 year-old minivan, the rest I blew on food. Otherwise it would have been slim pickens...

Craiglist is the new eBay for many people who can’t (or won’t) have a PayPal account, which is now required by eBay. You will also save money. The falling prices of stuff, set by a REAL free market, is a harbinger of things to come.

Craigslist: A REAL free market economy!