Traditionally held on the day after Thanksgiving in the USA, which is also the first day of the big crush of Christmas shopping, this is a holiday propagated by Adbusters advising people to beware of conspicuous consumption and to re-evaluate what they assign value to, affluenza and even the spirit of christmas.

In 1999, Friday, November 28th, I was at my local celebration/protest with Critical Mass Vancouver (among other groups).

2000: November 24th. I'm pretty sure the formula points to the last Friday in November, regardless of Thanksgiving.

Buy Nothing Day Checklist

* Do I need it?
*How many do I already have?
*How much will I use it?
*How long will it last?
*Could I borrow it from a friend / family member?
*Can I do without it?
*Am I willing and able to clean, lubricate and/or maintain it myself?
*Will I be able to repair it?
*Have I researched to get the best quality for the best price?
*How will I dispose of it when I'm done with it?
*Are the resources that went into it renewable?
*Is it made of recycled materials, and is it recyclable?

* Could I make it myself?

Though Buy Nothing Day is observed on the day after the U.S.'s Thanksgiving Day (the commencement of America's grotesquely gluttonous 'shopping season'), it is now celebrated internationally. Yearly, culture-jammers all over the globe take this day to subvert mass consumerism. Yee Haw.

On the Adbusters website, there several 'uncommercials' for Buy Nothing Day. They'll send out a tape of their TV uncommercial to anyone who has somewhere to play it. So far, CNN is the only network station that'll put it on the air. This is from their radio spot:
The average North American consumes five times more than a Mexican, ten times more than a Chinese person, and thirty times more than a person from India. (Burp!) We are the most voracious consumers in the world... a world that could die because of the way we North Americans live. Give it a rest! November 24th is Buy Nothing Day.

In 2001, it'll be November 23rd.
There are some interesting stories regarding the goings-on in observance of this holiday at I shant cut and paste them here, so you'd better go read up :Þ

I only just learned about Buy Nothing Day a couple of weeks ago. Slingshot, a local activist newsletter, had an article encouraging people to join in the consumerism protest. Today I decided to go to the city and observe.

I arrived at Union Square in San Francisco at about 12 p.m. There were quite a lot of people about. Anti-fur folks had installed themselves at the southeast end of the square. Some George Bush supporters were marching to and fro. Various humans were milling. Shoppers were rampant. A giant ugly christmas tree which was barricaded off from the general flow of human traffic took up quite a bit of room at the west end of the park. I suppose they're going to have (or, by now, have had) some sort of lighting ceremony with it. Some guy told me that mayor Willie Brown was due to show up. I wasn't terribly excited about that. I sat down on a cement planter near the middle of the square and commenced doing my homework while simultaneously regarding the activity of the people around me. A group of people had a clothesline strung up on poles on which garments were hanging with letters painted on them. Fully stretched out, it looked to be about 80 feet long, and spelled out: BOYCOTT OLD NAVY BOYCOTT THE GAP SWEATSHOPS SAVE REDWOODS, or something to that extent. More people started showing up with various signs, banners an flyers. Most of the messages on them were pretty simple; LIVE, FREE, BUY NOTHING, STEAL, CONSUMPTION IS A DISEASE, and the like. After about a hundred or so people had gathered, the whole lot of them started marching down the middle of the street, waving their signs and banging plastic bucket drums and tambourines. There was, of course, police supervision. (ha ha)

As the little parade made its way through the shopping district, a TON of consumers stopped to watch what was happening. Sidewalks were completely congested with people standing and looking perplexedly at the group passing by down the middle of the street. To tell the truth, I think that most of them really had no clue as to what was going on and probably went back to shopping as soon as the hullabaloo passed them by. When the parade got to Market Street though, everyone stopped in front of Old Navy for about ten minutes. Music was blasting through a large speaker and folks were still beating on their tambourines and makeshift drums. A bunch of people began dancing around to the music while others still waved their anti-consumer signs. This was a cool sight to see; in the middle of Market Street in downtown San Francisco, a complete obliteration of the normal, isolate, lemming-like, capitalistic, habit trail order of things. There was no traffic at all - the cars were replaced by people. The street was completely filled with human beings interacting with one another. People were literally dancing in the streets, and encouraging others to dance with them. Hundreds of shoppers put their buying on hold for a bit and watched it all. Eventually, the police 'guides' or whatever you'd call them, ushered everyone forward, and the parade moved on down Market street toward Powell. The whole group stopped again, this time at The Gap in front of the cable car roundhouse, where there ensued a scene similar to that in front of Old Navy.

I gather that this entire jaunt had been pre-planned and O.K.'d with the city because the cops were pretty docile about it all. Traffic was redirected to other streets as the parade occupied the road fully. At one point though, an offshoot of folks from the group had a short little impromptu party in the middle of a street. A bunch of bikes were thrown into the center of an intersection, blocking traffic, and more dancing commenced. I could see that the coppers were getting a tad freaked out about this new development - they began jabbering nervously into their walkie talkies, debating with each other what action they should take, I guess. Pretty soon though, those occupying the intersection moved on of their own accord and the cops chilled out some. Eventually, the whole mass of people made it back to Union Square. I hung around for a little while longer, talking to an old guy from Tennessee about this and that. The crowds started to disperse and I left the square at about 3:30. Next year, I think, I may do a bit more than just observe.

On Powell Street, some guy handed me a flyer. Actually, I had to poke him in the arm and ask him for one. Here's what it says:

The ABC's of Buying Nothing

The friday after Thanksgiving normally marks the beginning of the winter shopping season (and that's really what the holidays are about these days, as over-consumption surpasses goodwill). But while some of us are shopping for luxuries, others are working overtime, trying to make enough money to buy a few small gifts for their families. Profits from the spree go to a small segment of the population, furthering an economic system where 20% of the world's population are privileged to use 80% of the resources. In addition to the basically passive protest you can partake in by buying nothing today, here are some suggestions for better ways that you can spend your time, money and resources.

Art is cool cause you can make people think. (A is also for Anarchy, of course.)
Barter instead of buying. Participate in exchange without contributing to this economic system.
Cooking and crafts. Why buy something when you can create it (and share it with friends)?
Dancing is primal, sexy, and (unless you go to those SOMA clubs that the man is rapidly shutting down) it's free.
Everything, as all good things in this world are (or should be) free.
Fucking - because no matter how much they try to commercialize it, sex (and love) is still free.
Graffiti. Reclaim public eyespace (see A) (Be clever; be careful.)
Hacking. Use the new technology against them. Take matters into your own hands.
Indy. Go indy when you want to buy necessities like food, books, and music.
Junk. Find their trash and turn it into your treasure. Make every dumpster a bounty of joy.
Knowledge is power. Educate yourself TODAY.
Music (see A)
Nature. Go out and "visit" some today. Our over-consumption and profit oriented development is killing the planet.
Occupy whichever space you want. Squat, steal, and create the space and time you need.
Public space. Beyond nature our free urban gathering places are rapidly being usurped by for-profit enterprises. Stop them now! (see A-Z)
Quit your job. Find one you like. Work part-time or not at all.
Riot. Try it - it's fun! Reclaim the streets!
Steal something. And Sabotoge. And soccer cause it's fun.
Talking. Face to face conversation is way more quality time than cell phones, e-mails, or television could ever be.
Under the cobblestones, the beach.
Victory will be ours. It just takes a little work. Keep it up.
Walk! Don't drive. Cars suck
Xerox - copy machines are a cheap, easy, and most importantly - infinitely reproducible way of getting your ideas out.
Yell. Your ideas are meant to be heard.
Zero. The amount of money you will spend today.

I heard of a few good Buy Nothing Day demonstrations that were organized in 2000.

Nothing, of course, could match the best stunt of 1999: activists climbed to the top of the Mall of America and suspended 30-foot-tall anti-consumerism banners from the ceiling. They ended up getting off on misdemeanor charges.

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