Linda Moulder wasn’t among the early morning shoppers today, waiting in line for stores to open. The Spokane resident will steer clear of the malls, throw out the ads – in fact, she’ll skip the post-Thanksgiving sales altogether.
On the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, Moulder plans to spend no money at all.
For the last few years, Moulder and a few others in the region have subscribed to the philosophy of a small but growing international movement called “Buy Nothing Day.”
“I love the holiday season; it’s a very special time of the year,” said Moulder, 62. “But the commercialism really turns me off. (The holidays) shouldn’t be about buying and spending.”
Katie Frankhauser, 25, shares the sentiment. “I want to spend time investing in people instead of shopping all day,” she said.
Dubbed “Black Friday” by retailers in reference to profitability, the day after Thanksgiving is among the biggest shopping days of the year. Some people, however, wish to redefine the day by focusing on family, the environment, social justice and other concerns instead of going to the mall and spending money.
Founded in Vancouver, B.C., in the early ‘90s, Buy Nothing Day has evolved into a global movement. Some people view it as a form of protest against materialism and consumerism – a way to raise awareness of poverty and the effects of consumption and waste on the environment.
Others observe it for spiritual and personal reasons. They say they just want more simplicity and meaning during the frenzy of the holidays.
“I’ve always felt that the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for family,” said Moulder, who will spend today baking and getting ready for a Christmas craft party with friends. Running off to shop – even if you’re buying gifts for family members – doesn’t seem to be a good way to celebrate relationships and other values, she said.
While some might argue that Buy Nothing Day is pointless since people can choose to shop on another day of the year, those who observe it say it serves as a reminder to carve out time for the people they love.
“My parents raised us with a focus on people and relationships instead of stuff,” said Frankhauser, who doesn’t shop much in the first place and chooses to stay clear of big-box stores whenever she buys gifts.
This year’s 14th annual Buy Nothing Day will be observed in numerous ways in other parts of the world – marches through malls, credit card cut-ups, public art work. Others will shop, but only for items produced in their own region.
Moulder said she hasn’t seen a lot of local interest in Buy Nothing Day.
Instead, a growing number of people are becoming drawn to alternative gift-giving – donating to a charity in a loved one’s name or buying fair-trade goods that help improve the lives of artisans and marginalized workers, particularly in the developing world.
“People are beginning to think of other ways of celebrating the holiday season other than spending lots of money,” Moulder said.