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Cary Brunswick

November 26, 2013

Instead of boycotting, buy locally

Buy Nothing Day, that international day of protest against rampant consumerism, is traditionally reserved for Black Friday in the United States and for the next day, Saturday, in other countries.

After this year, however, there will be a lot of pressure to turn the effort into a two-day event because of all the major retailers that can’t wait until Friday to lure shoppers away from their families and into stores.

But, no doubt, Black Friday will remain the focus, as surveys show that about half of the nation’s consumers shop on Friday.

I continue to have mixed feelings about Buy Nothing Day, but not because I want to shop and spend. I do believe it is a great way to encourage people to stop and think about the annual shopping frenzy, and how they are led to follow Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and the other pied pipers of consumerism.

Granted, the hardcore activists of Buy Nothing Day may tell you to do a total de-tox on Black Friday and “lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and dump the love of your life — shopping.”

But I prefer to see it as an educational tool. After all, the vast majority of shoppers are not buying for themselves; they are buying for family and friends. So the message also is that you should reflect on where you shop and what you buy.

That means you can try to avoid the corporate department stores and instead visit hometown merchants where much of the merchandise is not from China or sweatshops but made locally and certainly in the U.S. In this way, Black Friday could be the impetus for developing a long-term consumer conscience that would be good for our economy, the environment and the working conditions in developing countries.

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Cary Brunswick

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