Sunday, November 27, 2005

What did you do for Buy Nothing Day?

Buy Nothing Day is a project sponsored by Ad Busters to counter the egregious consumption spiral that happens on the day after "turkey day". That is, on the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth thursday of November) is the official opening of the Christmas Shopping Season. On that day occurs a ridiculous display of consumerism, with people going to the stores early, waiting in line for the opening bell, and buying, buying, buying. Because, they have CHRISTMAS to shop for.

Let me ask you - where in the message of Jesus, whose birthday Christ Mass is meant to observe, was a recommendation to shop until you drop?

Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is (By David Cohn, Wired News, 02:00 AM Nov. 23, 2005 PT) - an interview with the founder of Buy Nothing Day.

It's hard to imagine this effort having much effect .. first, almost nobody knows about it .. second, for the most part it just displaces spending from one day to another. In our modern society it's real hard to do anything without spending money. What's the usual way to hang out? Head to the coffee shop? Head to the mall? Are there many public areas that do not involve spending money? And then there's television talking to your subconscious at you every minute about how you need this or that or something else to feel satisfied with yourself.

Still it's a noble cause, and I do my best to observe that day. However I rarely manage to go through the day without spending money.

For example, in past years for Thanksgiving I would take the Amtrak train to my Aunt's house, and then return home on the day after Thanksgiving. Whoops, that right there makes me spend some money to buy the train ticket, and on Buy Nothing Day. And then there's food while on the train .. it's a 3 hr ride, and there's a diner car offering adequately tasty bites.

This year was a little different. We didn't go to my Aunts, instead we spent the weekend at the Mount Madonna Retreat Center. We arrived on Thanksgiving day, and there was nobody in the office that day to finalize our reservation. Since they're real friendly people they handle that by letting us stay there anyway, and they handle the financial arrangements the next day when someone is in the office. So, sigh, that meant on Buy Nothing Day I was paying for our stay.

Then we stopped by the onsite bookstore and on the way into the store I mentioned to my sweetie that it's Buy Nothing Day. That led to talking with the store owner about BND. Now, this being a vegan commune in the Santa Cruz mountains the store owner is on the right wavelength to grok BND. He even exclaimed about the ridiculous show of consumerism on that day what with the stores opening at 5 AM to handle the crush of people. He said there ought to be something for that day to raise peoples awareness, so I pointed out that's exactly what BND is.

And then he admonished us to come back the next day to buy anything we set our sights on.

Hmmm... I'm not sure that's the point. If one just displaces their purchases from one day to another then have they made any difference?

In the interview linked above the originator talks about the spiritual journey involved with buy nothing day. In other words, what can you learn about yourself and your needs through buying nothing for a day?