Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists and many concerned citizens. Buy Nothing Day is held on the last Saturday in November internationally, this year falling on November 24th.
It’s not just about changing our habits for one day but about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.
The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Mexico in September 1992 as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption and advocating something as simple as putting money into the local economy by buying local—or making your Christmas presents. The union of these ideologies calls for a Buy Nothing Day to kick off a season of supporting local economy and family.
From the Buy Nothing Day movement, Buy Nothing Christmas has evolved. Buy Nothing Christmas suggest that instead of buying a pile of glitzy presents, give a personal meaningful gift. That could involve giving someone a gift of your own artwork, a collection of meaningful photos, a collection of favorite family recipes, a shared trip to a movie, a coupon for babysitting to new parents, a charitable donation in the gift recipients name, etc.
Gift-giving is important; it is a profound action, it is an important glue that keeps communities strong and people less individualistic. But this gift-giving impulse has been exploited by consumer capitalism and a market that preys upon our appetite for wasteful gadgets and soon-obsolete fashions.
When you do buy things, remember principles like buying locally-produced, fairly-traded products with environmentally friendly or no packaging. Recycling or re-using is also a good principle to keep in mind when considering Christmas gifts.
The main aim of the campaign is not to save money (although that can be a side benefit), nor to slow down the pace of Christmas (although that can be another side benefit). It is to challenge our over-consumptive lifestyle and how it affects global disparities and the earth.
In 2006, several pastors founded ‘Advent Conspiracy’ to rebel against the hyper-consumerism to which they found many Christians fall victim. They proposed to spend less on gifts and give more to the poor.
Over the past four years, churches that support Advent Conspiracy have donated millions of dollars to dig wells in developing countries through Living Water International and other organizations. A fraction of the money we spend at retailers in the month of December could supply the entire world with clean water.
If more people changed how they thought about giving at Christmas, the holiday could be transformative in a holistic and practical sense.