Is there a tradition any more backward or disgusting practiced across America today than that of Black Friday? Hordes of consumers mob stores for great deals on useless "goods" like new TVs or Playstations or clothes manufactured by Southeast Asian or Central American children in sweatshops.
We're in a pretty messed up place politically and environmentally. Multinational corporations and financial firms pretty much own the government. Global warming is not only a real and present danger, but rapidly accelerating. There is a plastic "raft" in the Pacific Ocean bigger than Texas. And as people we're constantly being taken advantage of to make this situation last longer so that corporate profits and bonuses can climb even higher than they are now.
The strong link between these two things - our society's consumerism and the terrible political, social, environmental, and economic situations we're in - demands action. By buying things from these corporations and feeding into this model of an economy, we only encourage it. So I'm asking you: please join me in buying nothing tomorrow.
I can't say it better than the people who came up with this themselves:
So this November 27 (November 28 in Europe and overseas), we’re calling for a Wildcat General Strike. We’re asking tens of millions of people around the world to bring the capitalist consumption machine to a grinding – if only momentary – halt.
We want you to not only stop buying for 24 hours, but to shut off your lights, televisions and other nonessential appliances. We want you to park your car, turn off your phones and log off of your computer for the day.
We’re calling for a Ramadan-like fast. From sunrise to sunset we’ll abstain en masse, not only from holiday shopping, but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.
Take the Plunge:
You know what they say: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. You feel that things are falling apart – the temperature rising, the oceans churning, the global economy heaving – why not do something? Take just one small step toward a more just and sustainable future. Make a pact with yourself: go on a consumer fast. Lock up your credit cards, put away your cash and opt out of the capitalist spectacle. You may find that it’s harder than you think, that the impulse to buy is more ingrained in you than you ever realized. But you will persist and you will transcend – perhaps reaching the kind of epiphany that can change the world.
Ideally, everyone will shut off their electricity for the day and just enjoy some time with their family or friends or both. If you can't do that, at least refrain from the Black Friday madness. Don't go to a store for some kind of deal. Don't shop at the big box stores - in fact, don't shop anywhere. Just take a break for one day.
Some might criticize me for publicizing this idea at such a tough economic time. "We need people to consume in order to drive the economy!" To that I say this: it's not good if we need people to buy useless crap in order to maintain our economy. That needs to shift. And the only way to shift it is to stop buying useless crap.
So will you join me? Will you take the plunge and break the chord from your normal consumerist ways?
I won't hold it against you if you shop at small, local, independent retailers...after all, that's the economy we want - not an economy of nothing, but an economy of locally owned and independent businesses. Personally, I do my best to support them year-round, and for some people Buy Nothing Day can be just a good day to reflect on rampant consumerism and vow to change your habits for the better.
It's called Black Friday because it is the day that retailers know whether they are going to be in the Red or in the Black this year.
Let me tell you what you probably don't know.
I have 5 people working for me, and I'm hanging on by a thread. If I see Black Friday as sucking, then I know that the Christmas season is going to suck.
You write your orders before you sell them. And you write your schedule before the people work them.
If I know that the Christmas season is going to suck, I cut waaaaaaaaaaay back on those orders that aren't supposed to deliver till 12/5, 12/10, 12/15 and 12/20, and I cut the hours people work, because I won't be able to afford to pay them.
When I cut orders and cut hours, the little micro-economy that I am the economic engine of, me working my two other jobs to make this all happen, they all suffer.