“Buy Nothing Day” usually lands on the last weekend of November each year.
In Australia each October we have ‘Buy Nothing Month,’ however internationally in November ‘Buy Nothing Day‘ has become the ‘thing’ you hear more about and for some reason, North America usually celebrates it a day earlier in November than the rest of the world so it’s best to check the website for the exact date.
The irony of how it always appears on the calendar just one month before Christmas, and follows the ‘Black Friday‘ sales (usually the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the USA) is also a fact not lost on me.
So the question is, (depending on what day it is in your time zone as you read this) “do you choose to follow the trend and resist the temptation to buy? Or not?” (this includes ‘online’ purchases my friends).
I can hear the excuses now . . .
“I didn’t realise what day it was at the time”
“I’ve been busy all week and that was my only opportunity …”
“Oh, was it? oops?”
“Oh well, perhaps I won’t buy anything today then.”
“But I needed an onion!” and “What a load of rubbish!!”
(well actually that’s the point).
Personally? Last year I knew about it, but forgot about it until mid-way through the day. This year I don’t need to buy anything as I’d purchased my fortnightly big grocery shop earlier in the week, but not because it was ‘Buy Nothing Day‘, but because I’m a creature of habit. Today, I simply have other things to get on with than part with my cash. Having said that, I’m sure that somewhere in online land a direct debit for something could be coming out of my account for something beyond my control, probably paying for insurance or mobile phone. Does that count?
If you did physically ‘buy’ something on ‘Buy Nothing Day,’ not realising it, or not caring about whether you knew or not, I wonder how you feel about those purchases now that you’re reading this?
Perhaps your items are essential grocery or pharmacy items, or you needed to fuel the car? Of those which do you think will actually be used in the next week? Which food items will be left in the fridge ignored and eventually thrown in the garbage because they went off? Which will remain in the pantry until the expiry date gets discovered? If your purchases were luxury items, has the immediate ‘thrill’ already worn off? I wonder if in time you find the shoes hurt while at that party? Or the dress didn’t win the man? Will the CD or online music download only end up having one or two songs on it you actually liked? Or will the toy end up tossed in the corner after an hour? Will the new game for the Wii or XBox become too frustrating for words? Will that new kitchen gadget or beauty product not fulfill its promise? If so what will you do with those items? Could they be returned? Do you still have the receipt? and if not, what form of ‘occupy‘ will it take up in your homes’ limited internal real estate space that used to be (until that item’s arrival) ‘unoccupied?’
Therein lies the ‘gift’ of Buy Nothing Day. It is a day to free yourself from the slavery of decision and the parting of cash. It frees you from disappointment, clutter, waste and the impact on both your immediate environment and on landfill. I’m still curious about the bigger picture though.
Can’t help imagining what would happen if everyone on the planet complied and no-one bought a thing on one day of the year, would it be justification for a global public holiday in the retail sector? I doubt it, (ironically now that I think about it, depending on your religion and public holiday system isn’t that already Christmas day?).
There is also the justification that ‘buying’ something also feeds a chain of employment. From harvest or creation, from design to manufacture through to sales to pay cheque, to mortgage. Your purchase goes to feeding and housing someone else.
I think what we really need to do here is routinely ‘think’ before we ‘buy,’ and ‘plan’ before we ‘buy’. Resist the urge to impulse buy, and ‘try’ before purchase where we can. Whether that means really putting on the shoes and doing a few circuits of the shop and being honest with the fit – over the prettiness of the heel, or taking the time to listen to tracks on iTunes and listening to the demo there. Being honest about how many times we’d actually use the kitchen gadget to prepare the type of meals it helps create, and seeing if we can actually get a trial size of a beauty product to see if it works before committing.
Imagine the money, disappointment, time, energy, space and landfill we’d save!
I find it ironic in a calendar already filled with ribbons of every colour representing days of awareness, that humans now feel the need to create a ‘Buy Nothing Day‘ to make us aware of our own foibles, when in reality we should be applying this ethos to every time we shop.
I, for one don’t buy into the ‘special day’ approach. It’s just a way of life, it’s in the name . . . Less Equals More. Feel free to share your thoughts.