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Buy Local or Buy Nothing?
Sarah Kuck, 27 Nov 08

The day after Thanksgiving, when I wake up from my Celebration Roast-induced food-coma, I'll be playing football in the park. But I know lots of people who will be hitting the stores to get a jump start on their holiday shopping.

Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. "Black Friday," means you'll probably be waiting in line, sitting in traffic or dealing with "competitive" shoppers on a quest for this year's it item. (If you're reading this from abroad perhaps you might substitute "Boxing Day" for "Thanksgiving".)

Those who are deliberately deciding to skip Black Friday either wish to avoid this scene all together or want to step away from the consumerist carousal that the holiday season has become. For the latter category, the day after Thanksgiving is known as Buy Nothing Day, an informal day of protest against consumerism. Buy Nothing Day has been heavily promoted on the eye-catching pages of the anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, but has been shunned from more corporate publications.

It's a tricky time of year for those of us who want to consume less, but still want to be respectful and reciprocal to those loved ones who insist on buying us presents. Also, this year is a different kind of tricky, as buying nothing means buying nothing from local, sustainable businesses who are already suffering from the economic downturn.

If you're taking this chance to cut back or go DIY, then I applaud you for it. But local businesses do need our support. So if you buy, buy local. And buy from local, independent producers who share your desire for responsibly produced products. (Note: as we've said before, just because it says local doesn't mean it is. Be sure to ask if a store or product meets your standards.)

Buying this way keeps more of your dollar circulating in your local economy, helping small businesses to keep their doors open and their employees paid. Loads of local business districts are currently campaigning to get people to spend their money where they live. Not only does it keep dollars invested in your community, but it also encourages the qualities that make dense environments exciting and livable.

So what do you think? Is it better to buy nothing or buy local?

Image credit:Sustainable Connections

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Our family has decided to scrap the annual family gift-giving extravaganza this year. We all admit we have everything we each need and why buy more stuff just to toss it later? And for those of us that want to or are able to give to others, we will make donations in the family name to local food banks and fuel funds for those in need.

Posted by: solargroupies on 27 Nov 08

buy nothing. it little sense to spend your money on stuff you don't need regardless of how much you desire to see your local economy flourish.

Posted by: rand on 28 Nov 08

I agree with Rand. It is obviously better to only buy what you need, than to buy something with the hopes of boosting the economy - an idea that helped to get us into the mess we are in.

Nothing against local vendors, but I would ask them to ask themselves how much they need. If I buy from them are they going to use he money on a new stereo? Or, if I don't buy from them (or anyone else) are they going to feel a pinch and reduce their own consumption... I would hope the latter.

Who was that great president that said something about what America needs to do now is to consume more? Sounds familiar.

Posted by: kevin on 28 Nov 08

I am amazed by the commentors who think this post is telling people to go spend money to prop up the economy. It says right in the post,

If you're taking this chance to cut back or go DIY, then I applaud you for it. But local businesses do need our support. So if you buy, buy local.
The key word there is "if". "if" you buy. This post is not telling you to buy. It is acknowledging that not everyone, not even everyone who reads WorldChanging, is going to buy nothing this season and encouraging those people to put those dollars to better use, to support those companies and products they can believe in, not this year's "tickle me Elmo".

Posted by: Erika on 28 Nov 08

Buy nothing day itself is entirely appropriate and should be celebrated by us as long as the predominant culture is so focused on consumerism (although thanks very much, it seems that it/we seem to be reconsidering that addiction) -- it's an important message.

I see nothing wrong however with larger holiday gift-giving as long as we focus on local producers and on things that fit useful needs right now. Give something green! Something bike, garden, food, conservation, nature-celebratory in its orientation!

Posted by: Bill, Seattle on 28 Nov 08

What makes a locally made thing better? What does locally made mean? Walking distance? Why not only buy things from your neighbors or from your immediate family?

Posted by: duncan on 29 Nov 08

Hey everyone, I do admit that I had not heard of this "Buy Nothing" or "Buy Only Local"(BIL) campaign, until I got it on a newsletter from a local group in my city called FEAST (Food Education and Security St.John's). I must say, over the last 3-5 years, I too have yearned for some alternative to the consumerist model of Christmas.

However, I always struggled to find an alternative. Now however, I have been made aware of one, and I thank you all for it! Also, giving donations to your favourite charity (Ex. The Boys and Girls Club), or even using the time to volunteer for local organizations (Ex. local Senior's homes,etc...) is a great idea.

From what i've been told, Christmas is the time of year when social workers are kept the busiest, because when people buy into this overly consumerist attitude, the result is that people burn out from stress, instead of enjoying the holidays.

Keep up the good work, and I really hope we all do our best to see this Global Financial Crisis as an opportunity to promote alternative economies (Ex. Environmentally, Socially, and Economically sustainable ones), that would in good times be ignored...

Posted by: Jordan on 29 Nov 08

It's ironic that someone died on Black Friday, the day before Buy Nothing Day, during a shopper's stampede at Wal-Mart. The world is just crazy, isn't it?

- Karin

Posted by: Karin on 29 Nov 08

I normally do a buy nothing day but this year I did buy local day because in this economy we need to be very careful about where we spend our money. The best protest we can do right now is to show corporate america that we want local things, local food, local goods and things made in America.

Posted by: buy local gordon on 29 Nov 08

WORLD MATING DAY is Februaury 4th.

Find a mate and spend a day of resistance in bed, no production or consumption,'no money will exchange just some bedding to rearrange' Don't work and don't participate, see
check out the lyrics and the doctrine of WMD

FEB 4th is WORLD MATING DAY - coming soon

Posted by: becky bonka on 26 Jan 09

Buying local or buying nothing doesn't always fix things. Buying smart might, so I wrote an article about it.

I believe in spending within your means, engaging in the community around you, and prudence. If those things overlap, then so be it!

Posted by: Dann on 31 Mar 09

Seeds. Give the gift of seeds. The gift of heirloom seeds. We're lucky in that there is a local shop that sells locally produced heirloom seeds. But there are plenty of sources online that sell organic heirloom seeds. It may not be local but it leads it. If someone grows a lettuce in their own garden or even in a pot on the window sill, that one less lettuce that bought at the store.

Posted by: Michele on 27 Nov 09

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