Buy Nothing Day is an day of protest that was founded in Canada in 1992 where people are asked to purchase no goods as a way to attempt to increase awareness of excessive consumerism and its environmental and ethical consequences. Over the last 22 years it has been held annually in many nations and activist groups are continuing to try to convince more and more countries to pledge their participate. A Buy Nothing Day, although based in good motives, is extreme and should not be established in the United States because it may hurt the economy, and it is an ineffective way to promote anti-consumerist ideas.
Asking American consumers to boycott all goods for a day could have negative effects on the country’s economy in many ways. Consumer spending almost single handedly carries the economy and makes up almost 70% of the gross domestic product. Not only does a Buy Nothing Day day have the potential to lower the GDP, but it would also cause instability in an already fragile economy that is still recovering from a recession. On a more personal level, a Buy Nothing day could seriously affect small businesses that depend on daily sales much more than large companies and workers in sales positions. If stores knew that they would not see many customers on a Buy Nothing Day, they may ask many workers to stay home which could be harmful to people who depend on work every day to pay for their living expenses. Even if a person was luck enough to still be called into work, many salespersons are paid low, basic wages and then paid commission for the number of sales they make that day to make up for the low base earning. If no one comes into the store to buy goods that means the commission they would have earned is not available.
In addition to negatively effecting the economy, a Buy Nothing Day is simply an ineffective strategy to promote anti-consumerist ideals. Asking consumers to completely abstain from purchasing goods is extreme and will likely not have a lasting effect on consumers’ buying habits. This is because this approach, although it may cause a day of less consumption, does nothing to educate people about why excessive consumerism is a problem. The more likely result is that it will simply hasten or delay the purchase of goods to another day, and it may not have any effect at all on the purchase of necessities such as gas and groceries.
In addition, it’s intense focus on the helping the environment is misleading, as one day a year will have almost no positive effect on the environment. Purchasing goods or not, most people will still have to use fossil fuels for transportation, and large industrial factories will continue to manufacture goods just as they would have before. If this campaign truly wants to create a lasting change in the way American’s purchase goods it should focus less on such extreme protesting and instead focus on year-long advertisements which better promote the reasons behind their campaign and on consumer education which would teach people how to make smart decisions when purchasing goods.
Starting a Buy Nothing Day in the United States could cause instability, damage the already fragile economy and hurt individuals who depend on sales for their livelihoods. In addition, it is altogether a poorly constructed and will not change the way people consume goods because it does not adequately educate people about the cause, nor will its one-day strategy have the impact on the environment that the campaign wants to. Although it has good points about the extreme level of consumerism in the modern world and its negative effects, its extremist approach is not the way to go. Better promotion of the ideas behind a Buy Nothing Day and consumer education are the way to create a lasting effect on the way people purchase goods.