From the Editor: International Buy Nothing Day

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?

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tseay5 years ago
A couple of years ago, I did the same thing. I call it White Friday, you spend the day write up your financial plan for the year and spend nothing at all. Resisting the temptation to spend becomes easier with practice.
Really when you think about it you and your family really don't need more stuff. But memories of time well spent. That you and your family will remember, The new XBox to replace the old one or the time you and the family played Kazoo carols to the neighbors. Okay I still want the new XBox. Hmmmm.... do both!
schumi235 years ago
How bout:
Spend nothing, and make something from salvaged materials day? (Sure, it has a bit less of a jingle to it, but I'm sure a more classy name could be found - Down with the wallet, Open the dumpster and recreate! or something like that
diy_bloke5 years ago
Challenge accepted. By coincidence I had some no knead dough already yeasting so no need to buy bread. I have enough leftovers and cans..

Though we don not have Black Friday here, I hate busy shops and not seldom I spent a holiday like easter or x-mas without lavish meals, purely because I hate, absolutely hate standing in line.

I have some unfinished projects so I am sure I'll get to the day
lemonie5 years ago
An important thing to understand about money is that you can't save money by spending it. The day doesn't work if people spend the money later, like not filing your car with fuel on one day of the year.

fretted5 years ago
In this economy i have Buy Nothing days 26 days out of the month any given month at that !
thirst4know5 years ago
I try to buy nothing always, as I enjoy the challenge, thought process, and final product of the things I make. So much better to see handcrafted things. Mass production is, well, for the masses.
pfred25 years ago
The sixth rule of acquisition states that, "A man is only worth the sum of his possessions." Never lose sight of this critical fact! The 97th rule is germane here as well, "Enough is never enough!" The 242nd rule states, "More is good, all is better." Finally I will close with the third rule, "Never pay more for an acquisition than you have to." Happy shopping!
I'm so sick of hearing about "black Friday" ,it's great to hear a desenting voice !!! I really like kcli's idea of a GREEN FRIDAY. We could not buy anything new or even anything at all. How about a GREEN WEEK or even GREEN SEASON .....Happy Thanksgiving to US readers from Canada !!
kcli5 years ago
For several years I have kept a promise to myself to not enter a big box/mall during the period Thanksgiving to Christmas. (QUALIFIER - if I had kids it's likely not possible because every kid looks forwards to something trendy/fun under the tree)

My one exception is that i love the time i get to escort my 85 yr old Mom to her local thrift stores. As one of 7 kids I never had her to myself, and now as an adult it's a very special way to spend a few precious hours with her. As a matter of fact, we have our "Green Friday" mapped out!

Not only does her money go farther (as purchases eventually goes toward designated charities), but I can often find affordable items/materials/supplies that trigger ideas for future projects.
Lindie5 years ago
My motto: Wherever the crowd is, I'm not. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Ninzerbean5 years ago
I pretty much always make the gifts I give. This year they are wooden mallets from the trees I've cut down on my new property in the woods. Too much woods it seems.
Kiteman5 years ago
I never celebrate it as a specific day, but we do, as a family, often say "today we are going top do things for free", and go watch birds or climb a hill.
I've gotten far more in to my local businesses lately, not because they're inherently better or need the economic help - they're simply more interesting, you are far more likely to have an interesting experience in one of them than a big place.

Like in Tescos (massive supermarket chain, apparently one pound in ten gets spent here) I might run in to a friend that works there, I usually do. In a random local shot I'm likely to make a new friend or at least have a good conversation with someone new. Like yesterday I was up and down the road hunting for a lamp, in a weird mighta been a thrift shop at some point I ended up talking away about projects and building things, while I didn't get my lamp I did leave with a nice new/old jacket...
emdarcher5 years ago
should be: buy nothing and make something (for free) day!
pfred25 years ago
If you buy nothing the day after Thanksgiving how do you get in on the Black Friday sales? You'll only have to pay more for whatever it is that you buy at a later date.

BTW Amazon has two fulfillment centers close by me so buying from them is supporting my local economy. You know you can't resist, consume!
ChrysN5 years ago
I first heard about it in Adbusters magazine years ago and I used to celebrate Buy Nothing Day too. But haven't lately because I usually forget. Black Friday isn't that a big deal in Canada though many people do head across the border to shop.

This year I am likely to consider making my own gifts but that is simply because my financial situation has changed.
Water, gas and electricity? I suppose you technically buy it each month though :D
iceng5 years ago
Right ... and in progress ! !

lockpick5 years ago

...Challenge Accepted!