November 25, 2011

Black Friday is “Buy Nothing Day!”

Tired of how commercialized and consumerized Christmas has become?

Fight back. Today is the 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day. (Friday Nov. 25 North America, Sat. Nov. 26 International)

“Black Friday – when we buy material possessions as gifts for the birthday of a guy who renounced material possessions.” — John Fugelsang

Youtube clip: (wait a moment for it to upload)


The back story (and Facebook page):

Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Typically celebrated the Friday after American Thanksgiving in North America and the following day internationally, in 2011 the dates are November 25 and 26 respectively. It was founded in Vancouver by artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by magazine, based in Canada.

The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Mexico in September 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, also called “Black Friday”, which is one of the 10 busiest shopping days in the United States. Outside North America and Israel, Buy Nothing Day is the following Saturday. Adbusters was denied advertising time by almost all major television networks except for CNN, which was the only one to air their ads. Soon, campaigns started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, and Norway. Participation now includes more than 65 nations.


The Facebook Group:

Participate by not participating!!!
Buy Nothing Day is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine. Participants boycott purchasing anything for 24 hours in a concentrated display of anti-consumerism. The event is intended to raise awareness of what some see as the wasteful consumption habits of First World countries. Activists may also participate in culture jamming activities like the Whirl-Mart and other forms of radical expression. It is also used to protest materialism and bandwagon appeals.

In the United States and Canada, supporters demonstrate on the day after American Thanksgiving. This day, often called “Black Friday,” is one of the busiest shopping days of the year (although this is not so in Canada, the date remains there to synchronize events). In other countries the demonstrations occur a day later.

And here are the 13 most brutal Black Friday injuries/deaths


A powerful blog about this (it really is a matter of life and death!)

…The Martyr of Black Friday (Why I Won’t Shop Today)
Black Friday has never been the same since 2008. That year, it turned from something mildly annoying to something approaching evil. I know, I know. You’re already calling me a Debbie Downer. I know, I know, I’m probably too late to stop you from shopping today.

But if I could, I would.

Yes, I’m a junkie for consumer electronics. Yes, I love to buy as much as the next guy. Yes, I know and understand that retail sales will help drive economic recovery. Blah, blah, blah…

But there is something about Black Friday that reveals the dark underbelly of our consumerist economy. There is something about the pushing, shoving crowds, eager to save a few bucks, that causes the skin to grow cold. There is something about the gleeful TV reporters, interviewing the early shoppers like they are some kind of modern-day heroes, that makes me sick.

You see, I can’t help but remember the Martyr of Black Friday. Do you remember him? He was a Haitian immigrant named Jdimitai Damour. who worked at a Wal-Mart in New York State. And on Black Friday, 2008, he was trampled to death by hoards of shoppers who apparently did not see, or did not care, that a man’s life was at stake.

What makes his death even more surreal is that he was apparently not a *small* man. He was a big guy. But there is something about the push of a hoard that can overwhelm anyone.

The best recounting of his death I ever read was from the LA Times, and reporter Erika Hayasaki. A good portion of that story is below, with a little editing for space….


The Occupy Wall Street Folks are on board too!

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 are preparing to camp-out. Only these people aren’t here to support 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. Lets’ 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!


So, let’s hold off on making purchases today eh?

(besides, there’s 12 days of Christmas and the prices are even lower starting Dec. 26 ; )



Roger is a regular contributor to The Christian Left facebook page and he is the author of Kissing Fish: Christianity for People who Don’t Like Chrisitanity (he urges you not to buy his book today however)

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