It is Black Friday, when everyone mobs the stores, chasing bargains. It is a big economic deal; all the financial media are watching the size of the lineups. It is also Buy Nothing Day, set up in reaction to this fiesta of consumerism by the Adbusters Media Foundation. According to Kalle Lasn, co-founder of Adbusters:
"Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don't address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day"
But most importantly, it is the first anniversary of the death of Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death by the opening rush at a store in Valley Stream, NY. He was 6'4" and 270 pounds, a "gentle giant to his friends" but that wasn't enough. According to the New York Times, "Just before the store's scheduled 5 a.m. opening the doors shattered under the weight of the crowd. Mr. Damour was thrown to the floor and trampled."
That brings us to Buy Nothing Day. My first reaction to it was "nice idea, if you don't work in a shop." A few years ago I asked some of our writers what they thought of it:
Warren McLaren: 'Buy Nothing Day' is about rampant consumption of over packaged, blister wrapped rubbish. We should not be one dimensional about this.
Which is better for the planet?
A. for one day nobody buys anything (next day they hop in the car and head off to the mall as normal) or
B. Everybody buys a bicycle on that day.
I suggested: We expand the message: Buy Nothing Day(ngerous to the planet)
- buy something from a thift store - unwrapped, preloved
- buy a subscription to CSA organic produce box
- buy membership to a car share network
- buy local
- buy organic, recycled, non toxic, reused, durable, functional
- buy carbon credits for the family's travel for the past or upcoming year
- buy solar panels
- buy a composting toilet
Erin: Black Friday is also an important day for our eco-gift maker friends. The holidays is the time when they get to show their stuff and make the money they need to get through another year of competing in this crazy Walmarket. We have put a lot of energy into the Planet Green gift guide and so have the awesome vendors who sent us stuff to help promote eco-friendly holidays to the press. I think they deserve our support this time of year, with gift guides and other promotion that we can offer.
TreeHugger Emeritus Ruben: Buy Nothing Day is a holiday dear to my heart. Proud as I am to be associated with TreeHugger, I know that ecological products can only do so much. If we really want to change the world, we need to find a truly different way of living.
We must consume much, much less.
But I have reconsidered my ambivalence since last year, after the death of Jdimytai Damour, when I learned that commercialism and marketing can make people so crazy that they would trample someone to death in search of a bargain. It is time to slow down, to rethink the way we spend and what we buy. Perhaps applying the lessons of the slow movement to shopping: Take your time, go local, go healthy and green.
Or maybe, once a year, buy nothing, a day of consumer silence, celebrating Jdimytai Damour Day, who died because of this insanity.