Black Friday … the term started in Philadelphia, (according to our collective brain, Wikipedia) and originally referred to the heavy and disruptive foot and vehicle traffic that occurred on the day after U.S. Thanksgiving. The explanation about it being the day that retailers stopped bleeding money and started making money was added later (and isn’t true anyway … many retailers start the year in the black, and stay that way). Now, thanks to retailers trying to deter us from going south to shop, Canada has Black Friday too. Yay! (sigh)
It might be interesting to track what happens to the millions of items purchased in any particular minute on Black Friday. How much useful but no longer wanted stuff, gets thrown away? How much breaks, or gets wrecked, and then gets thrown away? Or how much sits in the house for a year or two and then gets thrown away? How much gets recycled (if recycling is even possible)? How much is given away to friends or a charity (and then they throw it away)? Actually, I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to know.
Those cheeky folks at Adbusters have proposed an alternative – Buy Nothing Day. They challenge all of us to not buy a single thing on Black Friday. (Why Black Friday? That’s where the cheekiness comes in... if you’re going to do it, why not be bold and choose the busiest shopping day of the year?)
Zero consumption for one day. Try it. The fact that it isn’t as easy as it sounds makes us conscious of how much and how often we buy things. Adbusters is hoping we’ll all have epiphanies about the role of consumption in our lives and start buying less. Let’s get those bumper stickers changed to “whoever has the least stuff wins!”