Buy Nothing Day

November 21, 2009
On November 27th, citizens across the world will participate in Buy Nothing Day. Buy Nothing Day celebrates more than just a break from consumerism, as it is an acknowledgement of the media’s influence on our purchasing decisions. Throughout this discussion, I will introduce you to the purpose of Buy Nothing Day, and the discourses it represents.

Over-consumption is a primary concern facing society in general, and Buy Nothing Day is a response to this issue. This year, Buy Nothing Day means that participants will not only refrain from buying over a twenty-four hour period, but will be required to turn off all nonessential electrical appliances, cell phones, lights, and television sets. November 27th will be a complete escape from media that will help protect the environment. I believe that this is an event worth celebrating, as it is relevant to every citizen on the planet.

What makes a consumer purchase a product in the first place? For some, it is the need for an essential product to maintain their quality of life. For others, it is the desire for a product to increase their quality of life. In either case, needs and wants are the fundamental reasons for a person to be part of a consumerist culture. Buy Nothing Day opposes these causes, and encourages consumers to find alternative ways to satisfy their needs and wants that do not support the media or environmental degradation. In her essay on pranking rhetoric, Christine Harold makes suggestions on what influences a consumer to purchase a product. Harold states that, “It is likely that the Nike corporation does not much care how people interpret it as long as they keep buying Nike products. This is the viral power of the brand- its ability to provoke…” (Harold 208). From this, we can analyze the process of over-consumption from brand power. First, major corporations design a product that serves a need or want. Advertising and Public Relations professionals create a brand name for these products. The professionals then select a medium and marketing strategies to promote the product. Consumers are influenced to purchase the product based on messages from the media, the effectiveness of advertising, and their needs and wants. This leads to over-consumption and an environment in despair, making Buy Nothing Day a solution to the chain. By participating in Buy Nothing Day, we are projecting the ideology that the media is a major component of our culture that needs to be restructured.

Based on these assumptions, it is clear that our culture is beginning to break away from the media’s influence on our decisions as consumers. Our culture is attempting to become more autonomous from the media with Buy Nothing Day, and is proving that consumerism is not the key to happiness. By learning to survive one day without the pressure of the media, the idea of this event can be expanded to an entire lifestyle. After considering the rationale above, I will take part in Buy Nothing Day. Will you?

(In different areas, Buy Nothing Day takes place on alternative dates, with the majority of the events happening between November 25th-29th.)

Works Cited

“Buy Nothing Day.” Adbusters. Adbusters Media Foundation, n.d. Web. 20      Nov. 2009. <;.

Harold, Christine. “Pranking Rhetoric: ‘culture jamming’ as media      activism.” Critical Studies in Media Communication. 21.3 (2004): 189-     211. 17 Nov. 2009. <>.