Today is Black Friday. We’re told it is the biggest shopping day of the year. You’ll find massive sales to jump start your holiday shopping, and you can start very early in the morning. In fact, here’s a website that posts the hours for a bunch of chain stores. Why, you can start shopping at Ralph Loren or Old Navy at midnight, just moments after Thanksgiving ends!
Apparently, we’re willing to go along with this selling frenzy even though it means long lines in crowded stores. We go along because we’ve been told to. It’s Black Friday after all.
Adbusters Magazine launched Buy Nothing Day in response to Black Friday. It’s a campaign to get us to reexamine our shopping habits, and it has gained some traction. Lots of people respond to Black Friday by buying nothing in honor of Buy Nothing Day.
My own shopping habits have never been any different on the Friday following Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, and I personally reject both the call to shop and the call to buy nothing. Both feel like gimmicks to make me change my behavior for a day. What I want is for people to examine their shopping 365 days of the year.
What we buy matters. In the most democratic manner of all, it is a vote. When you spend money you are voting for the things you buy. Money is a reward that says to the recipient, “Good job, do it again!” So what do you want to vote for? That’s a tough question. Most economists, politicians, and employees in stores will tell you to vote with your money as much as possible. The more you spend, the better the economy, the more people will be employed, the sooner we’ll be able to pay off the deficit, the brighter the future will be. But it’s not so simple. Most environmentalists will remind you that the more you drive to malls and spend your money in stores the more carbon is released into the atmosphere, the more resources are depleted, and the faster we trash our planet. Most human rights advocates will want you to realize that the more you spend on cheap chain store products produced overseas the more you’ll be contributing to sweatshop and slave labor. Most animal advocates will wish that you would reconsider the fur, down, wool, and leather you buy in clothing stores and the myriad personal care products tested on animals in the cruelest of ways.
We need to consider what is worth voting for, which foods, which clothes, which electronics, which toys, and so on. I would be happy to attend a local crafts fair on Black Friday and support the many cottage industries in my county by buying homemade jams, artwork, pottery, and so on. I would do so consciously and enthusiastically, choosing holiday gifts with care and love, helping my community while choosing special gifts for loved ones.
What you buy matters. Today, on Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, I hope people will commit to shopping consciously and conscientiously.
Author of Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principal for a Better World and Meaningful Life
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Filed under: citizen activism, consumerism, economy, habits, mindfulness, MOGO (Most Good), values Tagged: | black friday, consumerism, ethical consumerism, gimmicks, holidays, mindfulness, MOGO choices, shopping, values, voting