Buy Nothing Day – the “anti-Black Friday” – seeks to protest consumerism

The promotions are hard to miss but in case it has not been advertised enough, this Friday November 27 is Buy Nothing Day!

Like Black Friday, it’s a tradition imported from North America and comes the day after the American feast of Thanksgiving, but it has a very different message.

Buy Nothing Day started 25 years ago in Vancouver as a day of protests against consumerism and it has spread all over the world since then. 

Many people suffered financial losses because of the pandemic and have less to spend this year, but some people have been living frugally by choice before the coronavirus came along.

Heather Ann started a Buy Nothing Project Facebook group in the UK, after coming across the movement in the US while considering what to do with her child’s old clothes.

She says the lockdowns have made the group even more important: “The biggest factor for me is that it’s been a lifeline for some of our members recently. 

“It really bothers me to think that these members might not have known where else to turn if it wasn’t for the group.

“The group has grown during the pandemic.

“We’re getting a lot of posts from people asking for help as their circumstances have changed due to the pandemic.” 

The group aims to recycle old items among themselves based on their individual needs so people don’t have to spend any money on new things.

Members are also encouraged to share knowledge and skills such as crochet for free.

It’s not just people’s finances that can benefit from buying nothing, the project aims to promote environmental sustainability as well. 

Ms Ann said: “It’s also hugely important for the environment when you consider the current issues such as fast fashion.

“We should care about buying nothing because it’s helping our people and our world.”

The fashion industry had some negative coverage in regards to the environmental damage caused by methods used to produce garments, but others feel overproduction is also a problem.

A UK based organisation is trying to counter that by encouraging people to think differently about where they spend their money. 

Fashion Revolution is made up of people from across the fashion industry who are trying to put an end to bad practises. 

Fashion Revolution co founder and creative director, Orsola de Castro, said: “Black Friday is a scam.

“It’s one more way to get citizens to think they are finding a bargain, when in fact they are hunting an illusion. 

“Don’t just buy because it’s cheap, think of why you are intending to buy, inspect your potential purchase and only then decide.

“Black Friday is about the rush, the speed, the compulsion.”

Dr Amna Khan, a Consumer Behaviour Psychologist and lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, talked about consumer compulsion to shop excessively.

She said: “What people buy reflects what they think of themselves.

“Buying gives people a sense of gratification and that can be an addiction. In Black Friday sales you end up buying more than you need.

“We are now seeing more conscious consumerism and if brands don’t align with consumers, they will leave.

“Brands are powerful but so are consumers.”

Photo credit: Buy Nothing Day by Wilder & Co from the Noun Project

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