Black Friday 2022: what is Buy Nothing Day, what are the pros and cons of it and how can you celebrate it?

There is an alternative day to Black Friday which is held every year on the same date at the end of November

Every year, in November, people look forward to bagging themself a pre-Christmas bargain in the Black Friday sales.

Black Friday is held annually on the last Friday in November, but it’s not the only event to be celebrated on this day - it’s also Buy Nothing Day. The day has been held for the last three decades as an alternative to the dedicated deals day, but it is still not as well known.

So, just what is this alternative day, what are the pros and cons of it and what can you do if you celebrate it?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday takes place every year, and this year it falls on Friday 25 November It takes place on the last Friday of November, and is a day dedicated to pre-Christmas sales both in physical shops and online. For many people, this date often marks the beginning of their seasonal shopping. There are always great deals to be had from many brands and across a range of products, including clothing, homeware, technology and toys. Black Friday has grown in popularity over the past few years, and many retailers now launch their deals earlier in November and also leave them live throughout the weekend that follows Black Friday.

What is Buy Nothing Day?

Buy Nothing Day, as the name suggests, is a day when people are encouraged to buy absolutely nothing. It takes place on the same day as Black Friday - meaning that this year it falls on Friday 25 November. It is intended to be an alternative to Black Friday. It is an international day of protest against consumerism, and people can take part in it simply by not buying anything for 24 hours.

As well as promoting spending less and not buying unnecessary items, Buy Nothing Day also aims to raise awareness of how to be a more ethical consumer. For example, people are encouraged to buy clothes from more sustainable sources rather than fast fashion. It’s also suggested that people do not automatically update their phone at the end of their contract. These kinds of decisions can help to protect the environment and also save money. For more information, you can visit the Buy Nothing Day website.

What is the history of Buy Nothing Day?

The first Buy Nothing Day was founded by an artist called Ted Dave in Vancouver, Canada, in 1992. It was organised in September 1992 “as a day for society to look at the issue of overconsumption.” In 1997, the holiday was moved to the same day as Black Friday and began being an annual day that was celebrated around the world. The aim is to make people think more about their spending, why they are buying things and the value of the things they are buying - and in turn this is intended to help people to make better decisions about what they buy and where they buy it from.

Buy Nothing Day is an alternative to Black Friday which is held every November.

What are the pros of Buy Nothing Day?

Juliet Landau-Pope, declutter coach, social scientist, productivity expert and author of What’s Your Excuse for not Clearing Your Clutter?, said Buy Nothing Day is a welcome reminder of the need to press ‘pause’ on our shopping.

She said: “It helps us to become more mindful and to appreciate what really matters in life. In our fast-paced consumer society, we are constantly bombarded by advertisements and promotions via every form of media, urging us to buy more stuff. For many people, that means endless pressure to purchase things that they don’t really want or need. Studies show that people shop for a variety of reasons – as a form of leisure or self-expression – but it can also become a harmful habit, leading to financial strain, family tensions and increasing levels of shame, guilt and anxiety.

Juliet Landau-Pope, declutter coach, social scientist, productivity expert and author of What’s Your Excuse for not Clearing Your Clutter?

“Perhaps Buy Nothing Day gives us an opportunity to explore other more meaningful ways of spending time. It’s also a chance to think about the habits that we’ve adopted, such as shopping online from our digital devices or over-stocking our fridges.”

What are the cons of Buy Nothing Day?

Buy Nothing Day has a good message behind it, but as it is only one day it won’t have much of an impact on mass consumerism overall. Most people don’t shop on a daily basis anyway so may not find it too difficult to not shop on this one day. As Black Friday deals often last longer than the one dedicated day now, people could take part in Buy Nothing Day in theory but then shop the Black Friday deals the day after instead. Alternatively, people could instead wait for Cyber Monday - another pre-Christmas sales day which follows Black Friday.

How can you celebrate Buy Nothing Day?

The good news is that the best way to celebrate is easy and free as you simply just don’t buy anything. There are other things you can do in support of it, however, if you wish. Some people carry out protests at shopping centres. Others avoid the shops completely and do something else such as going for a walk in nature instead. Another alternative, the Buy Nothing Coat Exchange, is an idea which is growing in popularity and encourages people to join the secondhand and pre-loved community. People donate winter coats throughout November to local support centres, and anyone who needs one can come and take one on Buy Nothing Day.

Landau-Pope, who has her own website called JLP Coach, said: “I celebrate Buy Nothing Day because I witness the harmful impact of overconsumption. Over-shopping and in particular, the pursuit of fast fashion and mass produced, throwaway goods is having a detrimental effect on our planet. It’s also contributing to financial stress among individuals and families.

“Buy Nothing Day is also a time to acknowledge the less privileged in our society, those who can’t afford to shop for even essentials. Instead of adding to our possession, consider what you might declutter and donate on Buy Nothing Day.”