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Buy Nothing Day

In contrast to Black Friday, the first big shopping day of the holiday season which takes place on the same day, Buy Nothing Day is a holiday from shopping, not for shopping. It's a day of protest against consumerism, where the art of participation is in not participating. There is a 24-hour moratorium on all buying, and in its place, there is reflection on how to better spend the holidays and how to be self-aware about how much consumption is being done. Buy Nothing Day raises concern and awareness about the commercial forces and overconsumption that erode the cultural, social, and environmental welfare of society.

Buy Nothing Day was thought up by Ted Dave, a graphic artist from Vancouver, and first celebrated in 1992. Its main sponsor is the Adbusters Media Foundation, a Canadian consumer group. Dave chose September 24th for the holiday's observance because he believed the Christmas selling season started three months before Christmas. He concluded that by not buying anything for a day, people would think more about the things they'd purchase the next day. Adbusters changed the date of the holiday to the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1996.

On this day, attention has been drawn to overconsumption in a number of ways. Credit card cut-ups, sit-ins, zombie walks in malls and other places of business, and free, non-commercialized street parties have been organized. Whirl-marting—the steering of shopping carts around stores without buying anything—Critical Mass cycling, and hiking are other ways people have stayed active on the day. Donating and volunteering, such as for coat exchanges, are some other common activities. Some people even participate in general strikes against any consumption of non-essential appliances, leaving their televisions, computers, and phones off, keeping their cars parked, and even leaving lights off.

How to Observe Buy Nothing Day

Celebrate by buying nothing! Find some other ways to use your time instead of shopping. Perhaps you could volunteer or donate, or do some whirl-marting or credit card cutting. If you want to go all-in, refuse to consume anything today. Don't turn on your computer or phone (it's probably too late for that if you are reading this), hide the television remote, and leave your car parked. If you sit in your house with all your lights off, you are celebrating to the fullest!

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