buynothingday

By Sherrin Fitzer

The Presidential election in 2012 brought 129,235 Americans to the polls.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and biggest shopping day of the year, saw 95.5 million people hit the stores that same year.

Traditionally stores would open in the wee hours of the morning on Fridays and, many people would camp out overnight to get their promised bargains. Over the years, stores have started offering their bargains earlier and earlier causing many workers to miss Thanksgiving with their families.

Hunting for bargains has turned dangerous or deadly for some shoppers. The current Black Friday death count stands at seven deaths and 98 injuries. People have been trampled, stabbed and shot while participating in this consumerist frenzy.

In our capitalist culture we have been taught to value things over people, things over experiences. Ted Dave, a Vancouver artist, decided to challenge this ideology by creating International Buy Nothing Day (BND) as a protest against consumerism.

BND takes place also on the day after Thanksgiving and people are obviously encouraged to do no shopping that day.

This can give us a chance to reevaluate our spending and priorities. 

We can begin to make a distinction between needs and wants and change our buying habits.

We can decide what it really means to celebrate and how to best show our loved ones that we care.

Some activities that have occurred on BND are “Zombie walks” through malls, cutting up credit cards, going to a store and doing a conga line while pushing empty shopping carts.

If this kind of activism isn’t for you, maybe you can give homemade gifts which can mean a lot more to some people than gifts that have been purchased from stores. Give some thought to what the spirit of the holidays truly means to you and see how you can express that, rather than falling into the commercialism we are being bombarded with.

Have you ever seen a child opening their toys on Christmas morning, frantically ripping into one gift after another, tossing the previous one aside? I am not certain that they even know what they have been given or by whom, let alone what it’s all supposed to mean.

So I wish you a loving, mindful and hopefully less consumerist holiday season. Here is a video by Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir if you need further inspiration.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeRqpru4rIQ

 

Photo: Mike Licht/Flickr

Editor: Dana Gornall

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Sherrin Fitzer

Sherrin Fitzer works at a large women’s prison in the Midwest (a place she never would have expected to be, yet it is exactly where she is supposed to be). She has been involved in teaching incarcerated prisoners since 1991. In addition to helping incarcerated women with their children, she facilitates a theatre troupe and meditation classes. She believes in the importance of the arts in prisons and tries to implement this as much as possible. Sophia—seen in the picture—is often her editor and generally a quite harsh one.
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