Buy Nothing

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 24, 2005

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day, Friday November 25, by ... buying nothing.

Several years ago, the mavericks at Adbusters came up with a cute idea to highlight the orgy of consumerism that starts after American Thanksgiving and leads right up to Christmas Eve (at 4:59 PM, when a fistfight breaks out over the last lazy susan on the shelf...).

Instead of participating in the carnage, citizens could register their opposition to consumerism by not buying anything for a day. Cleverly, they decided to call it Buy Nothing Day.

Even though Adbusters couldn't convince any TV networks to run their anti-ad, the idea took off. People in industrialized countries around the world participate.

It's even possible to find occasional mention of the event in the mainstream print media, in which some writers and editors still believe it's their job to educate citizens, not to entertain consumers.

Variations on a theme have emerged, including Buy Local Day (echoed by Jason Leach in his recent column, Scrooged), which recognizes that the problem is not buying stuff per se, but buying stuff from huge, globalized corporate entities that don't care about human rights or environmental protection.

In that vein, Raise the Hammer would like to interest you in these lovely Buy Nothing Day t-shirts and mugs, made by some very nice people in Malaysia who might have had to farm for a living if not for our sub-contractor's shiny, modern factory...

But seriously, see if you can go a whole day without buying anything. It's a lot harder than it sounds (and it sounds pretty hard).

If nothing else, it will help to raise your awareness of just how tightly we are woven into the economy and how important it is to be conscious of where and how you spend your money.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Locke (registered) | Posted November 24, 2005 at 06:45:44

If you're interested in Buy Nothing Day, you might also be motivated to see a new movie, WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price .

A screening is taking place at 6:30PM at Melrose United Church in west Hamilton. Visit for details.

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By Judy (registered) | Posted November 25, 2005 at 01:38:58

So far, so good today...although I am planning on going to the movies today...does that count? Interesting that Buy Nothing Day comes the day after Thanksgiving, when most people in the U.S. are lounging around to wait out the effects of all that overconsumption of food...

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By sroberts (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2005 at 07:07:49

Isn't Buy Nothing Day just an excuse for "socially-aware" individuals to procrastinate while simultaneously feeling good about themselves?

And Judy, Buy Nothing Day actually falls on Black Friday - named as it is since it's the day that most retailers finally find themselves in the black for that year. Black Friday in the US is a lot like Boxing Day here in Canada: door crashers, crazy deals, and other insanity. Most people consider it to be the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

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By sroberts (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2005 at 09:17:53

Fair enough, Ryan. Libertarianism has a good idea but it can't work in an absolute sense. However, this country could use a lot of its influence in the House of Commons.

That being said, I don't recall saying anything about the Libertarian Party in my post. I thought we were talking about Buy Nothing Day?

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