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Today, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is widely known as Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days in the United States. In a bid to counter this as yet another day of mindless consumerism, Buy Nothing Day came into being. The day was founded in Vancouver, Canada by artist Ted Dave as a day of protest against the ‘buy or die’ attitude that gets promoted relentlessly by shops and other commercial entities. While it started off having a US/Canada focus, it has since become an international movement. It is estimated that Buy Nothing Day has grown to an event celebrated in more than 65 countries. The day is celebrated on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US and Canada (this year, 23 November), and on the last Saturday of November in the rest of the world (or 24 November this year).

Shops go out of their way to promote spending money as the best fun ever, while in truth saving money can be just as exciting.
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Over the years participants in Buy Nothing Day have come up with a range of amusing strategies to focus attention on the problem of indiscriminate over-consumption. These have included credit card cut-ups, where people advertise a credit card cutting up service in shopping malls to help people cut themselves free from a life of debt, and zombie walks, where groups dressed as zombies wander around shopping malls with blank stares as a commentary on the mindlessness of consumerism.

Promotion of a culture of considered buying is not only good for a society caught up in an ever deepening spiral of debt, it benefits the economy of countries as a whole. And while the focus of the day is mainly on economics, I believe there’s also an important second level message – to promote the move from a dependent, buyers culture to a state of independent self-sufficiency. Growing your own vegetables, recycling and making your own compost, community based swapping and exchange (vegetables for meat, goods for services etc); all these things have the potential to result in a healthier and potentially much less costly lifestyle.

Sounds like fun? Here’s to Buy Nothing Day, and the journey to self-sufficiency – good luck!

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