Sunday, December 16, 2012

International Buy Nothing Day


 Just a Thought

A few years ago I started celebrating International Buy Nothing Day, which falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States (and the following Saturday everywhere else). I typically celebrate by going for a walk on the beach in the morning, and then spending the rest of the day eating leftovers and working on projects. I find it's a pleasant way to start the holiday season, and helps put the season in perspective.

Using one of the busiest shopping days of the year to take pause and go out of my way not to spend money made me very conscientious of many of the absurdities of the holiday season. It also helped me become aware of all of the small transactions that I typically made throughout the day, and the importance (or frivolity) of each one. Another unexpected consequence was that it limited travel, and forced me to stay local to my neighborhood. This made me engage with my neighbors in a way that did not require spending money. Not to mention, there were no pushy crowds elbowing for deals, no parking spots to fight for, and no unbearable register lines created by poorly trained seasonal staff.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that all transactions are bad. If no one ever spent money, our economy would probably collapse pretty quickly. We can't all avoid spending money every day, but we can choose where and how we spend our money. After a few years of celebrating International Buy Nothing Day, I am much more likely to spend money with local businesses, and support local artisans and craftspeople.

This decision was arrived at while I was strolling about aimlessly a few years ago, and noticed how empty some of the local stores were on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It was my conclusion that local businesses needed my money much more than the ubiquitous large retailers I typically purchased from. After all, these stores are more likely to sell the wares of local makers, and are an important part of the DIY community.

I highly encourage everyone to celebrate this holiday to the best of their ability. I understand that you may need to go get some food, or put gas in your car, but, if you can, try avoiding the magnetic pull of shopping malls and Amazon deals. Instead, I would encourage everyone to try spending International Buy Nothing Day crafting thoughtful gifts for people, reading a good book, playing board games with friends, or simply going for a walk.

Have you ever celebrated this holiday? Do you think you might like to try? Do you have any plans to make your own gifts this year? What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?