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Bye-Bye Buy

Black Friday is almost upon us – the ultimate day of turkey-stuffed, American consumerism that immediately follows Thanksgiving and sounds the holiday shopping season’s starting gun. The stores are ready – a Dunkin’ Donuts ad in this morning’s paper urges readers to “jump start your holiday savings” with a buy-one-get-one-free Latte (of equal or lesser value of course). But the question is, are we ready?

There’s nothing wrong with showing love through gifts, and there are certainly ways to give presents in a meaningful, sustainable way (like baking someone a beautiful loaf of bread, re-gifting gently used books, or buying eco-friendly presents like the ones suggested at The Jew & The Carrot’s Sustainable Chanukah Gift Guide).

But for anyone who prefers not to partake in the frenzied accumulation of plastic bags holding plastic stuff on Black Friday, there’s “Buy Nothing Day” – a concept created by a Vancouver-based artist and promoted by the anti-consumerism magazine Adbusters. Nothing Day advocates abstain from spending any money on Black Friday.

Hmmm…somehow that sounds familiar. Where have I heard of people abstaining from purchasing anything on a given day before? Ah yes, Shabbat.

Shabbat, I think, is the prototype for Buy Nothing Day. It’s Jewish tradition’s weekly antidote to thoughtless over-consumption. Of course not all Jews observe the buy nothing (and for that matter drive nowhere, email no one, and don’t work) aspects of Shabbat. But how profound would it be if everyone – Jew and otherwise – took one day a week to “say no” to the computer, to their errands and to-do lists? How profound to simply celebrate with their friends and family through eating and singing together? My blessing for this Thanksgiving is that we all set aside more opportunities in our lives to truly exist and recharge – without buying the entire sale rack at The Gap.

Happy Thanksgiving!

—Leah Koenig 


The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.