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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

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Reconsidering how we spend

The activist group Adbusters has named the day after Thanksgiving Buy Nothing Day.

Anyone who has ever gone holiday shopping knows the Friday after Thanksgiving is, historically, the most popular ” or possibly the worst ” day to go shopping of the year. In response, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based anti-consumerism group Adbusters has, since 2002, named this day Buy Nothing Day.

Adbusters was founded in 1989 by a disgruntled Estonian documentary filmmaker, Kalle Lasn, who became frustrated with consumerism and formed the media. Powershift Advocacy Advertising Agency, which works with nonprofit organizations, and Adbusters magazine, which features articles on how to be a good activist and parodies of well-known ads.

Adbusters can sometimes take things to the extreme, occasionally advocating “culture jamming,” a term used for everything from defacing billboards by blacking out logos or altering their messages to painting extra bicycle lanes on roads. It is debatable whether these tactics are effective. In a consumer environment where advertising is on a constant offensive, some citizens feel the need to fight such messages on a guerilla front.

Buy Nothing Day is a legal alternative to such tactics. Many Americans get so caught up in buying thousands of dollars’ worth of Christmas gifts that they forget there are other worthwhile causes in the world and things more important than spending money on ridiculous trinkets people don’t need. A day without shopping is a good symbolic gesture to that end. The Adbusters campaign is intended to be strictly anti-corporation rather than any other noble purpose.

Consumerism is necessary for a strong economy, and a strong economy is necessary for the well-being of most Americans. It is up to us, most of the time, where we spend those dollars. It is up to us whether to decide those dollars should go toward funding a billion dollar corporation a thousand miles away or help local businesses empower our communities. Buy Nothing Day is one day that we can take pause, give thanks and reconsider the power of consumers united.

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