Benefits and Harm of Buy Nothing Day in Different Countries

As a person living in the 20th century, buying, selling, and viewing products for purchase is a part of our culture. Consumer culture has become inherent to who we are as people, especially in places like the United States. But while consumer culture may be pleasing for those that have the pleasure to buy things, and make money from selling these things, consumerism isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Consumerism, especially when done on a large scale, can damage the earth’s environment, with pollution from factories and trash from packaging, and can cause some people to form a very greedy and selfish mindset. And so, the question arises: what would it be like if we took one day out of the year where no one could buy anything?

This so called “Buy Nothing Day” is already instituted in Canada, but one may wonder if this can work in other places. I would like to believe that a Buy Nothing Day could work in all countries of the world, as I feel it is very beneficial, as it will help people realize the things they take for granted, and truly see the impact consumerism has on their life, but I don’t believe it is feasible for a Buy Nothing Day to occur in all countries. While I do believe that a “Buy Nothing Day” could be quite beneficial and feasible in countries with social welfare systems like Canada and European Countries, I don’t think a Buy Nothing Day would be realistic in poverty stricken countries such as Sudan, or very capitalistic countries like the U.S. because of economic problems it would cause.

I think that if a Buy Nothing Day could be achieved without severely damaging a countries economy or leaving citizens in panic, a Buy Nothing Day would be incredible because it would be an eye opener to how consumerism affects one’s life. It’s very easy to take what one has for granted in a world full of such consumerism. Some of my most eye-opening experiences occurred when I was away from the excessive consumerism of our world, and rather simply spending time outside or reading a book. We often think that buying things is what separates us from others. I have been guilty of having this mindset myself. I have thought things like: “My family must be better off than this person because we can buy this and they can’t,” a thought process that can lead one down a dangerous path.

But when I got down to doing the everyday things that don’t involve buying things or going somewhere that requires payment, it was easy to see how we are all similar. Although we may live in different variations, we all need basic human things such as food, water, shelter, and love. Getting away from those dark thoughts that made me think I was better than someone else because of what I could buy, could only be fostered by going to the bare bones of what it was to be a human. That’s why I think a Buy Nothing Day would be beneficial for so many people. In my mind a Buy Nothing Day would give others the opportunity to reflect on themselves and society and see how we all aren’t that different.

While I do think A Buy Nothing Day would be beneficial for one’s moral, it just isn’t realistic for it to happen in some countries. As much as there are things more important than the economy, it is still a very important consideration to make if planning to establishing a Buy Nothing Day. In some countries there is people that live pay check to pay check, and if there was a day when no one bought anything from their business, they may have to consider shutting down operations, and even worse, they may not able to feed their family that night. The recent Corona Virus pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to the consequence of businesses being closed down temporarily, especially the economic downfall it can cause in a country.

Although big business leaders are likely swimming in riches, and this period may not affect their earnings in a detrimental way, in a U.S. style economy, the employees are sure to be hurt by this period of close down. For the most part businesses aren’t being forced to give their employees paid leave, so these people, and the families they are providing for, are suffering. Although a single Buy Nothing Day wouldn’t likely have as big as an effect on the economy as the several weeks of close downs Corona is likely to put the world under, it will still have an effect. It is important that we don’t cause people unnecessary suffering if we don’t have to, so I feel that some countries like the U.S simply couldn’t handle having a Buy Nothing Day at this point in time.

If capitalistic countries were to change their economic systems to be like that of the Netherlands or Canada, where social security systems are more developed, then Buy Nothing Day may become a reality for them. But countries living in poverty would need to find a way out of that deep hole before they even consider a Buy Nothing Day, which wouldn’t have much benefit anyway, as most people in these countries don’t live in excess. So, although I do believe Buy Nothing Day has its benefits, it wouldn’t work for many countries.

A Buy Nothing Day is a great way to raise awareness for excessive consumerism. In some countries it has been and could very well be successful at achieving this goal without causing unnecessary damage. But unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for all places. For this reason, Buy Nothing Day’s shouldn’t be established blindly. It is very important that one consider economic factors before establishing a Buy Nothing Day, because although one may have good intentions when planning a day in which no goods are purchased, in some countries a day like this could do more harm than good.  

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