Buy Nothing Day . . . But What About The Other 364 Days?

by Katy on November 24, 2016 · 27 comments

For most Americans, the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, a day dedicated to shopping, a day to take advantage of one-day only deals. A controversial day when customers crowd the stores and trample one another for cheap electronics and consumer goods.

Black Friday prompted the day known as Buy Nothing Day, described as “a day for society to examine the issue of overconsumption.”

I follow The Compact, and thus buy only used; although frankly at this point I hardly buy anything beyond consumables and the occasional second run movie ticket. So yeah . . . I won’t be pitching a tent outside Walmart as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away.

My problem with Buy Nothing Day is that it’s a single day event. Buy nothing this one day, then shop normally the other 364 days. Yes, it gets people talking about our consumer society, (and that’s a good thing) but it’s still just one day.

One day is not enough.

I propose that people treat the day after Thanksgiving as just another Friday. A day when you have the day off from work or school, a day to ahead and luxuriate in bed a few extra hours and then eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. (Did I not just describe the perfect day?)

Buy Nothing Day should be replaced with 365 days of conscious consumerism. An entire year where we make deliberate decisions about the purchases they make and how those purchases effect this world we live in. Only buy products produced by companies that provide their employees a living wage and safe working conditions. Companies who do not engineer planned obsolescence into everything they manufacture.

So yes, go ahead and choose to buy nothing on Black Friday if that’s your inclination, but don’t then with abandon the other 364 days just because you abstained for that single day.

Shop deliberately. Shop thoughtfully. Shop responsibly. Shop less.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariana November 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm



tia November 25, 2016 at 2:49 am

But if people didn’t buy things Goodwill’s shelves would be emptyI don’t have a problem with people buying things they need, it’s all the junk that never gets used and all the “gifts” that holidays guilt people into buying for each other.


mel bi November 25, 2016 at 3:33 pm

If nobody bought anything new again there would probably still be enough out there to be used/reused for countless generations…


Bellen November 25, 2016 at 4:11 am

Conscious Consumerism – should be everyone’s mantra.


marieann November 25, 2016 at 5:24 am

my sentiments exactly.

shopping should not be a hobby


Jennifer November 25, 2016 at 5:44 am

I plan to spend nothing today. This is completely off
topic but I wanted to remind my frugal friends that Kroger has 25 days of freebies! Today, I downloaded one of the lifesavers books of candy for a great stocking stuffer to my card. Text deals3 to 99006 and they will send you a reminder. I hope it’s ok to post this here, Katy. I know a lot of you shop at Kroger and I didn’t want you to miss anything that could be a potential free gift! Nothing is more frugal than free.


susanna d November 25, 2016 at 7:29 am

I love this post!

I’ve been seeing ads from car dealerships and retailers proudly announcing “Black Friday is all month long!” or something similar. So…since even Black Friday is no longer just a one day event (according to the sellers), why should “Buy Nothing Day” be limited to one day?

Conscious consumerism (I love that term, too!) makes it possible to have many more “buy nothing” days. Just this past week, what could have been two potential spending trips were averted by reusing or repurposing things we already had (we’re in the middle of a big remodel). The thrill of buying new items fades very quickly for me. The thrills I get when I see repurposed items in our home make me smile for a long, long time.

And when I do need to shop, I’ll try and make a point of following the wonderful points at the end of your post. I’ve copied them onto a sticker on my wallet as an added reminder.


Mrs. Picky Pincher November 25, 2016 at 7:51 am

I love this. Black Friday has become sort of odd to me. We spend Thursday trying to spread thankfulness and goodwill, and 24 hours later we’re punching each other over TV sets. We don’t plan on buying anything today; or really in general. We only shop if there’s a need.


janine November 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Well said Mrs. Picky Pincher!


That Other Jean November 25, 2016 at 8:02 am

We have to go to the vet for prescription food for the dog, but otherwise, we’re in for the day. No Black Friday shopping for us. Honestly, there’s nothing we really need.


Joyce November 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

I will spend a few hours today volunteering. My clients are folks who got themselves into credit card debt because they could not say ” no”. I help them make budgets, pay down debt and think before they spend. I hope that one they are debt free theynsatay that way!


Karen November 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Very apropos activity, Joyce! You are really helping people to undo the mindless consumer habit.

This year, we are very much stepping away from the “made in China” mindset. Too many people on the planet are in need, so instead we are volunteering and donating to causes that take care of people.


Laura November 25, 2016 at 10:10 am

And it’s spreading! Halloween is pretty well established here in Australia and now we are getting Black Friday promotions too and we don’t even have Thanksgiving or a holiday on the day. The whole world seems awash with consumer junk they are trying to offload on us. Shakes head.


nicole November 25, 2016 at 11:06 am

While I love this sentiment as a minimalist, I do participate and advocate people shopping on Small Business Saturday!


cathy November 29, 2016 at 9:56 am

I think the same could be said of Small Business Saturday. It’s a start to encourage people to support the small businesses in their community, but really, we should shop small all the time, not just one day a year. My favorite indie bookstore has participated in a “shift your spending” week for the past few years to begin encouraging people to shop small businesses regularly, and not to just default to big box stores. Baby steps, I guess :-).


Krystal November 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

Conscious consumerism is key, regardless of the day. Now, if anyone knows where I can get consciously-made work trousers please let me know, I have struck out at all my second-hand haunts and think I will have to buy new.


Marcia November 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

Too late–I already shopped. Instead of my normal once a week shopping trip, I only needed 5 items, so I went to a smaller edition of my regular store which is closer to our house. Spent just under $20 for the total, dropped a $20 in the red kettle on the way out of the store. Truthfully, I won’t miss it!
Spending the rest of the day reading and doing laundry and eating leftovers!!


Elizabeth B November 25, 2016 at 11:59 am

Great post, Katy. I hope the nonconsumer message continues to spread.

Last year we went for a hike on Black Friday, but I’m feeling a little under the weather this morning, so we may not get to go anywhere this time around.


Betty Winslow November 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Well, I *did* shop today, but it was mainly for stuff I would have bought any other day: bananas, vitamins, buns, pads…. I did buy a $1 purple Hello Kitty bracelet for my little 2 yo niece who told me yesterday her favorite color is purple (she and I have been slow getting to be comfortable with each other and yesterday she let me read books to her and gave me a bye-bye hug, too!) I also bought some great grown-up coloring books at Dollar Tree, to mail to some friends who need a pick-me-up. The only Black Friday things I bought were a wireless mouse for work and a pair of slippers to replace mine that are worn to a nub, both things on my “need to buy” list. I did buy some things online: jewelry supplies for an upcoming job, a photo made into a canvas (a gift for our honorary daughter), and an Instapot (on sale for $59!!)


janine November 25, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Today the universe itself told me consumerism isn’t the best path to follow.
– Got up early to take advantage of a somewhat obscure store’s $10 gift certificate – in past years have received good free merchandise from them in promotions. Car problems – couldn’t get inside lights to go out and couldn’t drive in the dark with them on so gave up that plan.
– Later in the morning I tried Home Depot for sale poinsettias which I usually buy to fill a large planter – they were sold out. Tried a similar store down the road but their parking lot was full.
– Needed to visit the vet to pick up the ashes of my recently deceased elderly beagle and decided to stop into a CVS located next door. They were out of most of the items I wanted to pick up and receive rebates from, and when I got home discovered the clerk had not charged me the correct amount – it is inconvenient to go back and it wasn’t enough $$ to be anything except annoying.
We decided to lunch on Thanksgiving leftovers and take a nap. Later my cousin called and we had a nice chat.
Simple happiness to all!


Isabelle November 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm

I think shopping is fine when it’s done wisely. In Canada we also have BlackFriday sales but people don’t go crazy like in the US. My husband bikes for work year round so he needs good equipment for winter time, which means expensive (quality). You don’t ride a bike in minus 40 Celsius wearing Walmart gear! So this means shopping sales, which happen to be happening on Black Friday amongst other days . So today he got good Columbia boots and good Columbia waterproof pants on sale, saving 70$ off the regular 210$ price tag. And a Columbia winter coat at Value Village for 25$ instead of at least 100-150$ new.


Amanda November 29, 2016 at 8:41 am

Agreed. The more I shop at Goodwill (wearing a sweater and jeans from there right now), the more I see the shelves and shelves of crap at Target as pre-Goodwill.


Katy November 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

“Pre-Goodwill?” I love it!


John November 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

Katy – not sure if you are already aware of this but I’ve been getting an error occasionally (actually becoming more common) when trying to access your blog:

The web service to this account has been limited temporarily!
There is a server resource overage report open for this account in the User area…

Maybe this means your blog is growing in popularity!


Claire November 29, 2016 at 9:18 am

Me too, and then they try and sell you something.


Ethel November 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Me too…I haven’t noticed any selling associated with this, but I usually can’t access the site until the next day when I see this message.


Diane C December 1, 2016 at 12:02 am

Me four. Pissed me off, actually, as I thought it might be an indicator of another site hacking. I’ve been blocked for “excess use” since before Thanksgiving. The link looked spamming, so I never clicked on it. It has happened once before, bUT for a shorter period.

I was so damn mad at missing my NCA fix, I never left the house. Didn’t buy anything Saturday, Sunday or Monday either. Today, I caved and went grocery shopping.

Our barely 10-year-old heater is out and the needed part is not available. I’ve been cooking and baking in an effort to warm up a bit and I was running low on supplies. I live in CA, so we’re not going to freeze, but 55 degrees is pretty chilly.


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