Happy Buy Nothing Day to You!

For some, today is a national holiday that goes with Thanksgiving just like potatoes compliment the turkey and stuffing. After we spend a day stuffing our faces and being thankful, we spend the day hustling and bustling, swiping plastic all over town. Those who want to be “in” on all the biggest sales will be happy to learn about Black Friday 2005 a new project that started up just a few years ago: “to be the ultimate collection of rumored Black Friday 2005 deals.”
However, those who want to make a statement and mediate on anti-consumption and non-consumerism instead choose to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, founded originally in 1989 by Adbusters Media Foundation, a group based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I am a huge supporter of Buy Nothing Day. Two years ago, I celebrated this holidy quite strictly. Some friends of mine and I made over 100 fliers completely out of junk mail that we handed out in Harvard Square in Cambridge to shoppers and other passers by, as we ate leftover vegetarian chili out of reusable bowls and drank tea from recycled plastic mugs. When confronted about the holiday, we always insisted that we were not extremists attemping to shut down the US capatalist system, rather we felt it was important to raise awareness about overconsumption, particularly on this major day of shopping.
A good friend of mine admitted that he felt he was not able to strictly observe Buy Nothing Day, stating: “I observe Buy Nothing Day once a week. It’s called Shabbat. The day after Thanksgiving has really good sales; I don’t make a lot of money, I rarely have time to shop, and I need to take advantage of the time off and discounts when I can.”
So, in my message to you Jewschool readers, whether or not you already know if you will be observing Buy Nothing Day this Saturday in honor of the holy Sabbath, to take into consideration the questions below (recommended by Adbusters) the next time you consider buying an item. I promise I will not chastise you if you decide not to observe strictly this year. That being said, if you are someone who is not shomer shabbat (in a strict sense of not spending money on Shabbat) and you feel you could benefit from this 24 hour consumerism fast, I highly challenge you to take the plunge.
For the earth and for our bank accounts, please shop mindfully.
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 or family member? * Can I do without it? * Am I able to clean, lubricate and/or maintain it myself? *Am I willing to? *Will I be able to repair it? * Have I researched it to get the best quality for the best price? * How will I dispose of it when I’m done using it? * Are the resources that went into it renewable or nonrenewable? * Is it made or recycled materials, and is it recyclable? * Is there anything that I already own that I could substitute for it?
[Editor’s Note] Also see “Remember the Sabbath,” a column from Adbusters by Douglas Rushkoff.

14 thoughts on “Happy Buy Nothing Day to You!

  1. Arab leaders in Hevron have contacted the city’s Jewish leaders for help in getting rid of self-proclaimed anarchist volunteers who, they complain, are destroying their traditional way of life.
    “The anarchists, many of whom are members of the International Solidarity Movement, flock to flashpoints throughout Judea and Samaria, ostensibly to help PA Arabs contend with IDF closures and protect them from harassment. In actuality, many of the volunteers seek confrontations with IDF soldiers and local Jewish residents, taking advantage of their Western passports to cause havoc – knowing that, at worst, they will be deported, not jailed.”


  2. whenever adbusters is mentioned, i can’t help but think of that article that so delicately expressed the “curious” jewishness of America’s neoconservatives. I can’t take them seriously. It seems point to rebel against the fact that in a prosperous country like America, people want to go out and get the best deals on the shit they worked to buy. My guess is the richest peope in American won’t buy anything today either, cuz they don’t care about the deals.
    Since then, adbusters just seem self-righteous. Bless up, Blaze up the Chalwa and send them all to Addis Ababa.

  3. Having Buy Nothing Day so soon after the Jewish holidyas and on a Friday is too much. It feels like a two day yom tov.
    Also, how integral is the good Reverend Billy to this day?

  4. I agree with the author. I don’t think that this Black Friday is good for the economy. As has been shown in the past, due to the great discounting of merchandise, the shop-owners are hardly making profit. This year especially, the mark-downs will cut into profits even more due to the increased cost of heating oil and gasoline. All the people expect low prices, so the dealers cut into their profit margins…
    Also, the people who go to the malls are usually not in the ‘holiday spirit’. Most people I encountered when I used to engage in the annual rite of winter {rampant consumerism} were usually in bad moods, often to the point of being rude and sometimes violent.
    I will be observing Shabbot, as I have for the last four years… I keep the sabbath as best I can, abstaining from travelling and spending money.
    Shabbot Shalom!

  5. “Take Rachel Corrie, for example, and the famous photo of her covering her hair out of respect for the Palestinians with whom she was active.”
    Funny, because what she was doing in that picture was violently ripping up American and Israeli flags that were burning. Plus, she was shmushed while brilliantly standing in the way of a bulldozer coming to destroy a house standing over a tunnel for smuggling weapons. Some real peace-lovers in ISM, huh?
    They’re a bunch of self-righteous, left-wing Westerners who think that they should stick their noses into other people’s business when they’re not wanted. They don’t benefit Israel, and in fact have a virulently anti-Israel agenda.

  6. in so many ways, fuck adbusters.
    fuck them for hurting small business in their crusade against starbucks.
    fuck them for their crusade against starbucks
    fuck them for their jewhunting
    and fuck them for their self righteousness

  7. “Palestinians may, indeed, have grievances with ISM and other Palestinian solidarity activists for their possible promotion of anti-nationalist political views and their likelihood of challenging sexism, homophobia and antisemitism in Palestinian society.”
    John Brown: The linked article doesn’t really contradict too much of the story himself, except to point out that the ISM creeps aren’t all anarchists and that ultra-right wing Israelis don’t like Arabs (wow really?!). The fact that many are ISM creeps are Christian really doesn’t surprise me at all.

  8. Whle I didn’t buy anything because it was the Holy Shabbat (and I’m Israel and thus poor), lack of consumerism hurts the economy and thus workers.
    If people don’t buy anything than workers also don’t get paid … especially the poorer workers.

  9. whether or not you support adbusters as an organization, the fact remains that excessive consumerism is hurting our planet. surely i am not suggesting that we all become nomads who live in the woods; personally, i support government and sustaining our economy.
    however, consumerism affects everyone. while we may create more jobs for americans in some arenas, we are making life more difficult for people abroad.
    Al Gore wrote in his book Earth in the Balance, “Our civilization is holding ever more tightly to its habit of consuming larger and larger quantities every year of coal, oil, fresh air and water, trees, topsoil, and the thousands of substances we rip from the crust of the earth, transforming them into not just the sustenance and shelter we need but much more that we don’t need.”
    Taking a day off from buying things we don’t need, just like Shabbat can be for Jews, is a symbol to cause us to meditate on what matter; what really makes us happy. Will a purchase of a new outfit, gadget, home decoration improve our lives? If so, do we need to buy the most expensive one with tons of packaging made in a far away country? Or is there a more sustainable option?
    The answer is to think through your choices, not to separate yourself from society. If you don’t like Adbusters.com; I’m cool with that. All I’m asking is that you challenge yourself to think about the earth when you open your wallet.

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