This year November 25 is Buy Nothing Day. It is an international day of protest against consumerism. It is celebrated in the United States and some other places, on the same day as Black Friday, which is the busiest shopping day of the year. In other places, it is the last Saturday of November.
The idea for this day began in Canada in 1992. Soon, campaigns started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Norway and Sweden. Participation now includes more than 65 nations.
Critics of the day say it simply means people shift their shopping to the next day, but the idea is to get folks thinking about spending less on things, and more on what matters – giving the gift of time instead of money, or making handcrafted items, or using the day as a time to give back to the community through local charities or the world through contributions to an organization doing good work, rather than buying presents. Some have also used this day as a call to buy locally rather than from national chains. I have found wonderful, unique gifts from the craft sales in my area.
As a Quaker, one of the things I value is simplicity, and I see Buy Nothing Day as a call to live out that value. Much of what I give is handcrafted, and I love giving those gifts that cost my labor, not my pocketbook, or donating to a good cause – in my case Friendly Water for the World who build filters to create clean water in Africa and other places– instead of buying something unneeded.
So I urge you to get creative in what you give for Christmas this year. It’s okay to start small and take baby steps.
Quotes about frugality and how we spend money
Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.–Elise Boulding
Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.–Stephen Butler Leacock
But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s.–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.–Vernon Howard
The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.–Mad Magazine
Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.–Ambrose Bierce
The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.–Kin Hubbard
Who covets more, is evermore a slave.–Robert Herrick
The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.–Louis Kronenberger
Live simply that others might simply live.–Elizabeth Ann Seton
We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.–Donald Horban
We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.–Gloria Steinem
…existence has become an unreasoning, wild dance around the golden calf, a mad worship of God Mammon. In that dance and in that worship man has sacrificed all his finer qualities of the heart and soul – kindness and justice, honor and manhood, compassion and sympathy with his fellowman.–Alexander Berkman
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