Today is Black Friday, the biggest retail shopping day of the year in the US. It’s also Buy Nothing Day, brain-child of the Canadian-based Adbusters Media Foundation. Adbusters launched the idea 18 years ago and it has since spread worldwide (tomorrow the concept goes international). Adbusters is urging us to celebrate the day by not buying anything.
The organization’s website offers creative ideas to draw attention to our out-of-control spending habits, our addiction to the consumer lifestyle, and the effect of retail corporations on our sanity. Whirl-Mart sounds fun. Meet up with a few friends at the local big box store for a faux shopping experience. Grab a cart as you enter the fray and tour the place conga-line style, without purchasing a thing. Or dress up and do the Zombie Walk around the store. If all else fails, go altruistic and help others swear off debt by offering to cut up their credit cards.
This is indeed a good way to raise awareness of the dictates of Black Friday but it’s possible that Adbusters is adding to the mess by keeping the focus on the problem. Rather than spending time in the belly of the beast, why not get away from all of that and do something to restore human dignity and the true spirit of giving?
From Western Colorado has put together a list of twelve very basic activities you can do to rethink consumerism this weekend – and beyond – and still have fun in the process.
- Take a walk and visit your neighbors.
- Bake your favorite treats and take them to the nearest soup kitchen… or to the neighbors you visit on your walk.
- Organize an old-fashioned cookie exchange.
- Clean out a closet and donate the best items to the local thrift store. Coats can go to the local homeless shelter. Maybe your neighbors will pitch in.
- If you must buy something, give it to a local charity for the annual Christmas gift or food drive.
- Make holiday cards or a holiday gift.
- Write a gratitude list.
- Write a letter, call a loved one, or spend time with your pets.
- Sleep in, rest, meditate, eat well, read, exercise. Self-care is the best gift you can give yourself or anyone else.
- If you can’t sleep in, be conscious of your co-workers or your family. Be kind.
- Treat someone – meet a friend for coffee or a meal. Take your favorite kid to the park or to the movies.
- Help out. Volunteer somewhere – the local food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, animal shelter, hospital, read to the elderly or the blind, baby-sit, dress up and play Santa…
The point here is to remember that we are defined by our humanness, not by what we buy. We are citizens, neighbors, and friends, not consumers. Now, it’s your turn. Leave a comment and tell us what you’re doing this weekend or throughout the holidays to reclaim your humanity… And, thanks for listening.