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buy nothing day

Buy Nothing Day no gifts

What is Buy Nothing Day all about?

I first heard about Buy Nothing Day when I was a college student studying public relations in the mid-90s. One of our professors  introduced us to Adbusters, a Canadian magazine critical of consumerism. Founded by Canadian artist Ted Dave, the Buy Nothing Day  message was spread by Adbusters. It had never crossed my mind to consciously skip Black Friday before reading Adbusters, and I found the idea intriguing.

Buy Nothing Day poster

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Today Adbusters frames Buy Nothing Day as an international day of protest against consumerism. They encourage people to engage in protest activities like taking a zombie walk, cutting up credit cards, or inviting friends to join you for what is called “whirl-mart.” All activities are designed to bring attention to the large role that consumerism plays in our lives. And the zombie walk sounds like a lot of fun. Of course, if protest actions are not your thing, simply not buying anything all day equals full participation.

According to the Adbusters website, “Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your habits for one day, it is about rediscovering what it means to live freely.” The day is meant to wake us up from our consumerism stupor and become critical consumers, thinking before we buy.

Earlier this week I wrote a post about REI remaining closed on Black Friday and many California State Parks offering free admission to the redwoods for the day.

Finally, the idea of skipping the mall the day after Thanksgiving is catching on after 20+ years of Buy Nothing Day.

Why now? Rather than simply telling us what not to do on Black Friday, the conversation is now revolving around  alternative activities. REI started the conversation this year by encouraging folks to be active and get outside. And it is about time.

I recently read an article published in the Chicago Tribune that asked, “Is Black Friday dying?” From the sound of it, Americans are ready to leave shopping behind and replace it with something much more subversive, a day of physical activity after a food-filled holiday. Check out the #optoutside hashtag on social media.  It’s full of fun posts.

I like to believe that Buy Nothing Day started this anti-Black Friday trend. People are tired of stores opening early on Thanksgiving and ruining the holiday for their employees. Only we can decide to take back the Thanksgiving holiday so it feels more like a holiday weekend and less like another excuse to shop.

Ultimately, only we can decide how to spend our time and money. On Buy Nothing Day, you might just want to #optoutside.

toddler hiking through redwood tree
Family, Fitness, Simplify

Get Outdoors on Black Friday

It’s very exciting that REI is remaining closed on Black Friday and encouraging people to get outside. I’m a big fan of Buy Nothing Day (the Friday after Thanksgiving, AKA Black Friday) and love when others get in the spirit. Have you ever heard of a national retailer skipping one of the largest shopping days of the year? This is HUGE. The best part is that REI is giving their employees the day off as a paid holiday.

REI Sign not open on Black FridayNow California state parks are getting in on the action. A variety of foundations, including the Save the Redwoods League, are sponsoring free admission to 49 California state parks on Black Friday (November 27) so Californians can take a walk in the Redwoods. A donor was inspired by REI’s get outside message and donated the funds to cover the cost of free admission so people can take a walk in the redwoods. I’m hoping the FREE admission will inspire a lot of people to skip the mall and to explore the great outdoors.

If you are going to be in Northern or Central California on November 27, you just need to visit this website and request a free pass to participating parks. And do it soon because passes are already selling out for some state parks.

Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and friends. It is a time to be thankful. And now Black Friday is being reframed as a time to be active, exercise and enjoy the outdoors. I can’t think of a better way to work off a big holiday meal than doing something active with family and friends away from shopping malls.

Now to choose which state park to explore. Hmmm…

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