For those in the United States, tradition and media influence have established today as a day for spending time with family, over-eating, and watching television. What could be more American than Thanksgiving Day?
Fast becoming a tradition for consumers is Black Friday (and to a lesser extent Cyber Monday). Retailers have discovered a tendency to for consumers to use the day after Thanksgiving as the perfect time to finish shopping for the holidays. With this observation, the stores compete with each other to grab shoppers’ attention with the goal of having customers depart with as much as their own cash as possible.
Tips for saving money on this holiest of holy consumer days are plentiful. Boiling down the most typical advice, consumers should pay attention, prepare with as much information as possible, stay focused, and get out or online early. For more solid tips for shoppers who are determined to spend money, take a look at The Insider’s Guide to Black Friday Bargains, an article I wrote for PC World.
But even the best advice ensures that you will spend more money. Retailers are happy with bargain hunters because they will spend more in the long run.
There are two paths for the informed citizen:
Path 1: Accept you are one small piece of a larger economy and admit that despite finding bargains, you will spend more money this holiday season than you probably should.
Path 2: Resist the desire to spend spurred by society and spend nothing.
Buy Nothing Day is the anti-consumerist “holiday” promoted by Adbusters. While it is “celebrated” on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, the movement encourages focus on a larger issue than fighting against retailers who market to us 24 hours a day.
In a consumption-based society, we are draining the planet of its natural resources. Simply refusing to take part in Black Friday festivities will have little effect on the companies or the world. Buy Nothing Day should offer us a chance to look at the relationship humans have with the planet and look for room for improvement.
Use this winter, with the economy deteriorating and leaving many people with less money to spend anyway, as a chance to re-evaluate the way you celebrate the holiday season. Rather than buying CDs and DVDs, plastic toys, and electronics, all which will sit in landfills for thousands of years before breaking down after their usable life has ended and sometimes contain dangerous chemicals, discover new ways to share your love with family and friends.
One tip outweighs all others for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season at large: buy less. Buy intelligently and find your bargains, but use this year as an opportunity to rethink the way you approach holidays sponsored by retailers.
While you’re at the dinner table with your family today, use the friendly atmosphere to discuss whether a new approach to the gift-giving season could apply to your holiday experience.
- How to Have a Green Christmas (EarthEasy)
- How to Have a Green Christmas (TIME)
- A Sustaintable, Intangible Christmas With Substance
- Buy Nothing Day
Photo credit: Hey Paul
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published November 25, 2011.