Buy Nothing Day

The antithesis of Black Friday.


While the day after Thanksgiving is famous for being when Black Friday occurs, Buy Nothing Day also happens to be on that Friday as well. Buy Nothing Day is purposely scheduled annually on the busiest day of shopping and is exactly what it sounds like- to buy nothing. The day is meant “for society to examine the issue of overconsumption.” This issue mainly relates to anti-consumerism. Anti-consumerism is concerned with the “ethics of corporations toward the expense of public welfare.” On Buy Nothing Day, many activists will spread awareness by participating in protests and other events to share their message, like sponsored recreational events. 

Spreading awareness of anti-consumerism begins with identifying the problem with consumerism. The problem lies with how major corporations operate in order to satisfy the consumerist tendencies they promote. Environmentally it is very damaging, which can be evidently seen in America, whose country’s CO2 emission producers are amongst the top in the world. These problems start with major corporations more than anyone else. According to The Carbon Majors Report, 100 companies alone are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. Federal regulations that better enforce how companies can produce are a must in order to limit the ecological damaging effects of these emissions. 

Also relating to consumerism, marketing has grown to be so much more advanced in today’s age compared to the past. Targeted advertisements are just one example of the many major advancements. These advertisements use data to predict consumer trends, which lead to more effective ads because they are targeting the most suitable audience. Creating an effective advertisement is only part of the equation, as finding the right audience is equally as important. Major companies know this and feed off of impulse purchases, which they are able to achieve because they have the data to know who to target. The way most companies get this data however is unethical. Online privacy is often violated in order for the data to be acquired. Rules should be in place to mitigate the effects of targeted advertising to better ensure the privacy of users. 

There is a fallacy that happiness comes from buying, which is what many advertisements portray. However, extra consumption does not improve well-being. A study from Binghamton University supports the idea that “viewing wealth and material possessions as a sign of success yields significantly better results to life satisfaction than viewing wealth and possessions as a sign of happiness.” Materialism in of itself is not a negative concept toward well-being, rather it depends on how it is viewed. Most marketing from major companies will target and sway most people to believe the latter, because that is what drives sales. 

While the root of the problems with consumerism on a macro level begins with major corporations and private entities, individuals are able to challenge consumerism on their own accord by changing their lifestyle. While there is nothing wrong with spending extra cash on enjoyable products, excessive purchasing can be disadvantageous. Simply as much as slightly realigning priorities and limiting impulsive purchases can lead to more beneficial lifestyles.

Everyone has the right to consume how they choose to. The task of trying to find the solution though does not lie on the individuals and the general public to solve, rather it falls on private companies and governments. Federal regulations are effective toward preventing unethical habits. Federal laws are needed to better enforce companies to be more ethical, eco-friendly, and more transparent with ads. Events, like Buy Nothing Day, are a great way to share this issue with the public.