Two hundred and seventy

Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day

Two holidays that couldn’t be farther apart.  One of the biggest shopping days of the year and a protest against it.

Black Friday

From the Huffington Post slideshow: "Black Friday Sales: The Funniest Faces In The Frenzy" (click on image to see rest of slideshow)

One of the biggest shopping days of the year.  I just read on the Globe and Mail that two people were shot in armed robberies and 15 people pepper-sprayed last night and this morning during Black Friday madness.  People are serious about their shopping!  In other years shoppers have assaulted each other or even been trampled during the mad rush to get into the stores (one 34-year old employee of Walmart was trampled to death in New York in 2008).

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in America (and in recent years starting the night before, or very early in the morning), where retailers offer huge discounts on items and turn a profit, or go “in the black”.  It is said to be the start of the Christmas shopping season.  People line up for hours to get the best deals.  A little too claustrophobic for me!

Many Ontarians head south of the border for the good deals, often spending the night and making a mini-vacation out of it to avoid duty and taxes.  There is a push, though, to keep consumers in Canada.  Many Canadian companies are also offering Black Friday discounts today and this weekend.  I did a little video I mentioned yesterday for the Toronto Star and a photo shoot for a photographer friend of mine, to promote local shopping.

Me modeling for the Toronto Star - photo by Keith Beaty

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism, over-consumption and the extreme amount of waste that comes along with this.  Started by Vancouver artist Ted Dave in 1992, it was promoted by Canadian magazine Adbusters and now has campaigns in over 65 countries.  It is typically celebrated the same day as Black Friday in North America and the following day internationally.

This year Adbusters has combined their efforts of the Occupy Movement with Buy Nothing Day events.  #OccupyXmas will “put the breaks on rabid consumerism for 24 hours… Historically, Buy Nothing Day has been about fasting from hyper consumerism – a break from the cash register and reflecting on how dependent we really are on conspicuous consumption. On this 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day, we take it to the next level, marrying it with the message of #occupy…”  Events include mall sit-ins, consumer fasts, credit card cut-ups, and whirl-marts (participants silently steer their shopping carts around a shopping mall or store in a long, baffling conga line without putting anything in the carts or actually making any purchases).

 If you don’t want to go to that extreme, but still want to participate in Buy Nothing Day, then just buy nothing for the day.  As BuyNothingDay.orgputs it: “If we buy nothing for just one day, perhaps we’ll realize the true value of watching HOW we spend.” And as Adbusters puts it, it “isn’t just about changing your habits for one day” but “about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”So, two different holidays with completely opposite views on the same day.  Buy lots to support the businesses.  Or buy nothing to support the environment. (A little more complicated than that, but you understand)