Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Buy Nothing Day"?

Apparently this has been around for at least a couple of years, but I don't remember hearing about it until today (on another blog).

The basic idea of "Buy Nothing Day" is that we North Americans are consumption-obsessed pigs, and the absolute least we can do is make a "statement" by taking a day off from the shopping. So no shopping on November 23rd, 2oo7 (aka "Black Friday").

Of course it's none of my business if someone wants to boycott shopping on a particular day, but I won't be participating. Frankly, I think the whole thing's ridiculous. It's not like I shop every other day of the year, so what's the big deal about not shopping on this day in particular? Isn't it an odd "coincidence" that Buy Nothing Day just happens to be a day that is known for major sales and bargain opportunities (in the U.S., at least)?

One of the ads on the movement's(?) website compares how much a North American consumes with the consumption of someone from Mexico or India. Yeah, well, in case these people haven't noticed, many Mexicans are doing their best to get in here with us shameful consumers-- and I have no doubt that if we shared a border with India, many Indians would do the same. The majority of people who have disposable income and the opportunity to spend it will do so, no matter where they come from. (I am so, so sick of Americans and Westerners in general being vilified for doing what almost any human would do, if given half a chance!)

Is there waste in our country? Do some people spend more money than they should? Do many of us have piles of possessions that, strictly speaking, we don't need? Yes, to all. I'll be the first to agree that money (and the possessions it equates) can't buy happiness. Some simplification might allow us to focus on and enjoy those aspects of our lives that we value most. And yes, buying fewer unnecessary things might do the environment some good (since that seems to be part of the argument for the "no-buy day").

:::Tangent::: I do wonder, though. . . If we were all to stop buying do-hickey thing-ums, how long would it take the supervisor of the do-hickey thing-um factory to realize that they need to pull back on production? How long before it starts to have any real effect on the environment? And. . . won't these same "NO NO NO to shopping" people be the ones who immediately start crying out and demanding justice for the now-jobless workers at the do-hickey thing-um factory? After all, someone has to make the do-hickey thing-um, and that's where their bread money comes from. And then there are the people who make/harvest the raw materials-- the ones who transport the do-hickey thing-ums to the store-- the workers at the store. . . See, Buy-Nothing People? It's not as simple as you'd like to think. :::End Tangent:::

However-- what difference will not shopping for one day make? Shouldn't a lifestyle change-- a true, day-by-day commitment to making practical, conservative (Hee hee-- Wouldn't they love my choice of words?!) shopping decisions-- be the ultimate goal?

No, that's not splashy enough. It doesn't involve making a show of yourself. Where's the fun in that? ;o)