Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buy Nothing Day!

I have always liked Thanksgiving, ever since I was a kid. When we first moved to the U.S. and I got a 4-day weekend for the holiday, I thought that was the best thing. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, on that Saturday night, "wow! I've been out of school for three days already and there is a whole other day off left- this holiday rules!" I have a lot of traditions that I maintain for Thanksgiving, some old, and some new. In this post, I want to share some of these traditions with you.

The first is Buy Nothing Day, brought to you by the fine folks at Adbusters. Basically, this event, now in its 15th year, is a way to give the tradition of "Black Friday" a big fat finger. I don't know about you, but the increasing media attention paid every year to throngs of people rushing to the shops the day after Thanksgiving gives me the serious creeps. When did we become lemmings, completely internalizing the idea that we have to wake up early and hit the shops on this day?

And when you think about it, one of the biggest aspects of veganism is a rejection of overconsumption. It's not good to eat without a thought to the impact of your food on the environment, just like it's not good to buy, without a thought to the impact of commercialization and just plain stuff on our mental and physical environment.

What if the corporations threw this pathetic party and nobody went? What if we all decided that the Friday after Thanksgiving was a day for relaxing? exercising? spending time with friends or loved ones? volunteering? doing schoolwork? meditating? participating in activism? making art? knitting? organizing? grooming our pets? making out? raking leaves? sleeping? fixing our bikes? winter-proofing our homes? backing up our files? mending our socks? planting bulbs? writing letters? calling old friends? giving someone a hand? cutting up credit cards?

Daiku and I have been participating in Buy Nothing Day for longer than I can remember- at least 6 or 7 years. I can honestly say that I haven't bought anything on the Friday after Thanksgiving - not a pack of gum, not a piece of fruit, not a used book on Amazon.com - nor have I gone window-shopping - physically or on-line - in all this time, and it rocks! When you don't participate in an event, you get a really good vantage point from which to observe it, and frankly see the insanity in the whole thing. So, check out the BND and Adbusters websites, see if there's an organized event taking place near you to celebrate this event. Find something fun to do this Friday, something that doesn't involve consumption - of anything except Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ahem. So allow me to climb onto my soapbox for just a moment... Brothers and sisters unite! You have nothing to lose but your tired feet from rushing mall-goers stepping on your toes, and your credit card debts! Are you with me?? Buy nothing this Friday!

Whisper as a baby (top left) and all grown-up at Farm Sanctuary in July 2007

The second tradition is the idea of adopting a turkey from Farm Sanctuary instead of eating one. As many of you know, we adopted Whisper last Thanksgiving (we got word the day before the holiday that the adoption had gone through!), and were lucky enough to get to visit her this past summer. She is gorgeous, and our dinner table on Thursday won't be complete without her photo. You can go to http://www.adoptaturkey.org/adopt.htm to find out more about adopting a turkey yourself - it only costs $20! It is such a life-affirming, satisfying thing to do, and much like Buy Nothing Day, it is a great way to just say no to an unappealing aspect of the holiday. (By the way, you can adopt animals all year along, costs vary from $10/month for chickens and $15/month for turkeys, all the way up to over $100/month for a larger animal like a sheep or a cow - look into it if you have been looking for a good charitable cause!)

The final tradition, one that we started seriously paying attention to last year, was the idea of a local Thanksgiving Feast. As some of you might remember, I participated in Treehugger.com's 100-mile Thanksgiving Contest - and won! How cool that a vegan meal placed first, right? But even better was learning how easy it is to discover wonderful sources of food right in my own backyard- I still get food from some of the same producers and farmers that I discovered in designing a 100-mile Thanksgiving meal last year. This year, as you plan your meal, pay close attention to where your ingredients are coming from, and try to be as local and seasonal as you can- your food will taste more delicious that way, anyway!

Here's our local Thanksgiving entry to Treehugger.com last year
Here's last year's Thanksgiving meal post
And here's our other Thanksgiving meal from last year
Here's the post about adopting Whisper
Here's last year's Buy Nothing Day post

I'll post our Thanksgiving Menu tomorrow. Wow- we're VeganMoFo-ing right along! I've never posted this many times in a month- and there's a way to go! I don't even know if anyone will be reading blogs on Thanksgiving, but I will post and we will see!



selina said...

i love the idea of buying nothing. it's insane to me how many people get up (pretty much what i consider the middle of the night) just to go shopping. i mean my goodness, kohls opens at 4 am!! thats crazy.

unfortunately i have to work. otherwise id love to be doing one of the other fun things you mentioned. but i definately wont be shopping.

thanks for the info about adopting a turkey. thats an awesome thing to do!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

I have always boycotted Black Friday and now there's a NAME for it! I love it!

And to catch up, I LOVED your New Yorker thoughts as well. Excellant stuff!

Celine said...

I always roll my eyes when I see people trample one another in order to get to whatever toy they want. I mean, come on!

Unilove said...

The very reason it is called Black Friday is because retailers will be in the 'black' that day due to sales. Some people just like to be part of something different, some want to tell their friends 'look what I got and at what price!' and others use the sales as excuses to spend like crazy...the weird logic of 'look how much i saved by spending all this much!'


Sleep, glorious sleep. A real luxury these days. And my choice wastes no gasoline, adds no exhaust pollution, and actually helps my health.

Have a fabulous Buy Nothing Day.

I intend to have an indulgent Sleep In Day.

Blog on! :)


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Wait.. you won MILK?! How funny! What the hell did you do with it?!

Bridget said...

I have participated in buy nothing Friday for about 10 years, which is when I quit retail. I swore I would NEVER ever buy anything the day after Thanksgiving. Now I sit at home and shake my head in sympathy for those poor retail workers. Trust me when I say it sucks to work on Black Friday because the majority of consumers turn into total whacko's!

Ashasarala said...

I have been an avid supporter of the 'Buy Nothing Day' for years! The most I've spent was a ticket on a movie with my family on Thanksgiving night. Other than that, my money stays in my pocket!

As a matter of fact, I go as far as to not go Christmas shopping at all. The most I buy for are my 3little nephews because I like getting them little outfits and books and paints and things. Other than that, I tell everyone not to buy me a thing. It makes them feel better because we're not all running around spending tons of money on each other, wondering what everyone wants. Instead, we spend time together baking, cooking, drinking and enjoying each other's company- the way holidays are meant to be!

Vegan_Noodle said...

I like the idea of making out on Black Friday instead of shopping!

I haven't been going out shopping on Black friday for several years, but never knew there was a movement behind it! Ah, you learn something new everyday.

jab said...

I think I'd rather do a self appendectomy with a rusty butter knife than go anywhere near a mall on the day after Thanksgiving. I dislike shopping under normal circumstances, let alone with a giant crowd of people.

I am going to be buying stuff on Friday, but since it's bottles of wine from local wineries, purchased AT the wineries, I'd like to think it doesn't really count as participation in the corporate machine.

Liz² said...

I never knew there was a significance to Buy Nothing day being on the 23rd! (the canadian thanksgiving is way earlier). ccol, good to know.

bazu said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone! I'm inspired by everyone's stories, especially people who have worked in retail, that gives such a better view of the craziness of the day.

Melisser, I talked with Organic Valley about my prize, telling them I didn't want milk! So they sent me a year's supply of coupons good for any Organic Valley product, and we've been using them to get soymilk and orange juice - yay!

the little one said...

Ah! The students on my campus totally screwed me up! They had good intentions though. They posted signs all over campus stating that buy nothing day was last week. I realize now that they did that because we aren't on campus this Friday. Thanks for letting me know I now need to repost on this! Heck, if folks read my post last week and didn't buy anything, they'll have more good karma. Two days of buying nothing in just a one week period!

Elizabeth said...

Watching TV yesterday evening I started seeing ads for stores opening at 4 and 5 am this Friday. There's just something really not right about that. Getting up at 3 am to go shopping is so bizarre to me. Especially when you can do all your shopping online any time of day without interrupting your sleep! I don't know if I will buy nothing on Friday because I will be visiting my favorite city in the world (Portland, OR) for only three days and I have to maximize my time in Powell's (US's largest independent bookstore), but I will most certainly not be buying anything at 5 am.
Thank you for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.

Emmie said...

Buying nothing will be easy, I'm broke! I generally try not to buy too many things. I don't like ovberspending and buying things I don't need.

textual bulldog said...

Great post, Bazu. I can't believe all the ad's I'm hearing on the radio saying things like "Remember, Kohl's early bird special sale starts at 4am." On our way up north yesterday (driving to relative's house for the Thanksgiving break) I saw that the outlet mall in LA is having a sale that starts at midnight on Thanksgiving. Soooo depressing. Anyway, I'm totally on board with Buy Nothing Day. Both because the sale culture makes me kinda sick and because I can't imaigne anything more unpleasant than trying to shop on black friday...

P.S. Whisper's so pretty! Yay for Turkeys :)

Rural Vegan said...

All the $14 DVD players in China could not coax me out from under the blankets at 4:00 a.m. Friday morning. No, rest assured that I will be boycotting right along with you!

I'm also with you on the Turkey Adoption tradition! We adopted Moth this year. Who can resist a name like that?

SaraJane said...

I've always boycotted Black Friday, too. bleh. It just makes me sick to think about. Luckily, they don't do that up here in Canada. Everyone not in the US will still be reading blogs on US Thanksgiving!

I was thinking the other day about how crazy it is to be posting so much for Vegan MoFo, too. I've gotten into such a habit of daily blogging. I'm betting we'll all be posting so much more after this, just from getting used to it.

Anonymous said...

I have been boycotting black Friday for years too--I love your posts, Bazu! They are always so thoughtful and well written.


Village Vegan said...

I didn't live in the US from when I was 8 until I was 16, and when I came back I had never heard of Black Friday and it was such a shock. It's so depressing how much SHOPPING means to some people. I really don't get it.

It's so depressing how Thanksgiving has sort of turned into a turkey and shopping fest. Ugh. Not the way it's supposed to bed. However, I understand why people boycott black Friday, but at the same time I don't think taking a one-day stand against consumerism makes any significant difference (this is just my opinion, though, Bazu, and I'm not trying to be disparaging at all-- I admire you for boycotting it and I know that you do many other things to combat consumerism etc) because we still shop many other days of the year. At depressing as it is, I don't think that we could have the sorts of lives we enjoy without some form of consumerism.

I don't think I've ever gone shopping on black Friday, but if there was something I needed and could get for a significantly cheaper price, I would buy it on black Friday. Because if I didn't buy it then, I would buy it another day. I think there are more consistent ways of taking a stand against consumerism than buy nothing day.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think of buy nothing day as more of a stand against crazed shoppers than consumerism.

Village Vegan said...

Oh, and I almost forgot! I can't wait to hear your thanksgiving menu. I'm sure it's going to be great. One of the nice things about having to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday is that I can take last minute inspiration from the dinners of others, if need be. ;-)

aTxVegn said...

OMG, Bazu, I'm already sick of Christmas. Well, sick of it being shoved in my face immediately after Halloween.

It was so great win you won the "eat local" contest! I thought I made out pretty good this year with local ingredients. Our paper ran a story about all the local foods for Thanksgiving, but the one thing you couldn't get was the turkey - yay!

bazu said...

Thanks again for your comments, all! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who is fed up with over-commercialization, not just of holidays, but of other aspects of life as well!

Village Vegan, I totally understand your point. Just not shopping on one day doesn't accomplish much, but it's a good step towards setting up a critical awareness of our consumerist environment. Anti-crazed shoppers day sounds good, too!

Candi said...

Anti-crazed shoppers day! :) I like it. :) Great post, Bazu. I love how you stand up for causes like this, and I first heard about this day only a few years back! I have participated in it and bought nothing for years now, and it *does* make you think of holidays and other days in the year. It sets the ball rolling and makes you think! I love it.

I am in awe of your photos with Whisper. I hope you have that one of you framed in your home somewhere - it's gorgeous!!