zen habits : breathe

Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Today is one of the worst days of the year: overconsumption day (or Black Friday as some call it). Or you could call it one of the best days of the year: Buy Nothing Day.

I prefer the latter — it means we waste less, consumer fewer resources, stop looking to shopping to solve our problems and make us happy, and instead find simpler ways of finding contentment.

And so today I extend a challenge to all of you, and the world: Buy Nothing Until 2013.

Yes, I’m taking Buy Nothing Day and extending it through the end of the year.

Why the hell would you want to do this challenge?

Do it as a protest against consumerism and corporate influences on our lives. Do it as a tool for contentment, for simplicity. Do it to reclaim the holidays as a time of connection and love, not of buying and debt. Do it just to see if you can.

And yes, you can still do it if you’ve already done some Black Friday shopping. We’ll forgive our past sins and start afresh. :)

The Manifesto

Buy Nothing Until 2013 is about freedom.

Freedom from consumerism. Freedom from corporations (or a little bit of freedom, at least). Freedom from debt and overspending. Freedom from the need to shop to be happy. Freedom from the use of shopping as therapy or stress relief. Freedom from shopping as a way to connect with others. Freedom from buying to show our love for others. Freedom from sales and holiday madness and malls and huge chain stores and crazy shoppers. Freedom from overuse of resources, from wasted packaging, from wasted fuel to ship all that junk to the store.

Freedom from crap we don’t need.

We are more than consumers. We don’t need to buy gifts to celebrate the holidays with each other — we can get together, make delicious food, go outside and do something fun, play games, talk, tell jokes, tell stories, give hugs.

We are alive, and don’t want to waste the hours we have in chain box stores and malls buying things we don’t really need.

We know that just because stores have massive sales doesn’t mean we need to buy what they’re selling. Sales don’t mean we’re saving money — it means we’re spending it. We used precious life hours earning our money, and we want to use that to live, not buy.

We are free from buying, and free to live.

Join us, and Buy Nothing Until 2013.

The Challenge Rules

There are no official rules. Make it up as you go.

However, some suggestions:

  1. Make a commitment to Buy Nothing, except necessities, through the end of 2012. Tell at least one other person, or better yet, spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, G+, email, etc.
  2. Necessities are OK. Of course you’ll have to buy groceries and household supplies and medicine, and shoes for your kid if the shoes get holes in them. Christmas decorations are fine, as are balloons for your New Year’s party. And if you need to buy stuff for your business or work, go ahead and do that. But avoid buying gifts, or new clothes or gadgets or other things for yourself.
  3. Find other ways. If you need something, like a sweater or a hammer, see if you can find a different means other than buying it. Can you do without for a few more weeks? Can you borrow it from a friend? Trade? Find it free on Craigslist? Get it at a thrift store (yes, that’s buying, but buying from Goodwill is better than buying from Walmart). Can you make your own?
  4. Celebrate without buying gifts. There are lots of ways to celebrate the holidays, and buying gifts is only one possibility. We can have get-togethers with great food, with outdoor sports, indoor board games, out in nature. Or we can give food as gifts. Or our time. We can volunteer together. We can create movies and art together. Be creative!
  5. If you cave in and buy something for some reason, don’t fret. It’s much better to avoid buying for most of the holiday season, and save resources and carbon emissions (and debt), than to just ignore the issue and buy without limits. Just renew your commitment not to buy anything else after the slip up.
  6. If you’ve already done some shopping because of the sales, don’t worry. You can still participate by starting now, and forgetting about what came before!

Join me, my friends, and together let’s forge a new path that’s free from the burden of buying.



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