11 Rewarding Ways to Observe Buy Nothing Day

11 Rewarding Ways to Observe Buy Nothing Day

To many, it's known as Black Friday, but the Friday after US Thanksgiving has another name and meaning for others: Buy Nothing Day. Started by Canadian artist Ted Dave and later promoted by the magazine Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day encourages us to spend a day... buying nothing.

The idea is to speak with our wallets, to take action by not participating in capitalism for a day.

Of course, it's easy to come up with criticisms for the movement, and we don't expect it to change the world, however we do believe it can change ourselves, and isn't that a great place to start?

It may seem funny for a retail store to encourage people to buy nothing for a day, and we understand that. We certainly won't turn away customers as life doesn't necessarily allow you to time your purchases around events like this and sometimes you just need an essential oil, some materials for DIY gifts or some reusable cloth produce bags to take grocery shopping. 

But that said, we will be attempting to observe Buy Nothing Day ourselves and we encourage you to give it some thought as well. Rather than focusing on the abstinence aspect of the day, we wanted to highlight some great ways you could enjoy the day and really feel like it was a positive experience.

Enjoy The Things You Already Own

Consumerism has a way of tricking us into thinking that buying something new will make us feel good. And often, it does... but that effect doesn't usually last! And what becomes of each new purchase? Many are relegated to a corner and forgotten.

Think for a moment of something you've spent money on (or just own in general) that's not seeing any use: it could be a board game, a book you still haven't read, a toy like a kite or remote control car, sports equipment, DVDs, or even a membership to a museum or gym. Presumably, you own this because you thought it would improve your life in some way. So pull it out and enjoy it! Get that Scrabble board down off the shelf and spend some time with a loved one. Go for a walk and use that bird book. Pull out the snow shoes and go exploring. 

Gather Your Loved Ones

Often we forget to make time for simple activities with our friends or family. It might be having a cup of tea with a friend, visiting your grandparents or even cooking them dinner, or hunkering down for a movie with the kids. Make some time on Friday to spend time with people who bring you joy.

Get Outside

Go skating, go for a walk, or check out some public art. Is there a beautiful park or natural area near you? Go exploring! It's easy to think that walks are boring but really, there is always something to see, and moving your legs and getting some fresh air is always good -- even when it's cold!


Take some time to enjoy a creative pursuit. Whether you enjoy painting, knitting, building fixy bikes, or planning out next year's garden, spend some time doing something that makes you feel good. And if you've got Christmas gifts on the brain, take the evening to whip up some DIY presents!

Check Out Free Resources

There are lots of free resources around if you think about it. The library, public art installations or art galleries, free programming in your town -- there are bound to be resources near you that you're not using. Today is the day to check them out and see what you can find!


Seeing all those sales advertised on your social media, and allllll the news stories about Black Friday might be severely irritating. Better to unplug and relax. Shut off the phone, stay off social media, resist the urge to check your email.

Go on a Free Date

Take out a likeminded person on a free date -- a friend, somebody cute, or maybe your partner or your whole family! Make a picnic dinner and eat it in a public garden or atrium; or do one of the things on this list!

Use What You've Got to Make Something Delicious... Then Enjoy It!

Challenge yourself to use what you've got on hand to cook or bake something delicious. Using what's on hand is a great way to avoid wasting food, and it can lead to fun and delicious results! When you're done, dig in!

Have a Dance Party

It's fairly self explanatory, but a dance party is a great, free thing to do! You can play music, or music videos and dance your heart out! Dance alone, invite friends or get the kids up and moving. Here's a hint for the preschool set: they absolutely love watching themselves dance, so put the music on your computer and then turn on a video app (like Photobooth on a Mac) -- no need to record, though you can and then they can watch themselves later! Sometimes younger kids won't dance, but if they can see themselves on the screen, it's a lot more likely they'll give it a try.

Go People Watching

Put a delicious warm drink in a travel mug and head out with a friend to the airport (we recommend the International Arrivals gate), a university, downtown, the farmers market or near a stadium or arena on game day. Make up life stories for the people you see or dub in their conversation for them. People watching is under-utilized, awesome free fun!

Learn Something on YouTube

Or online in general! There are so many free tutorials online that you could learn a new skill for free every day if you wanted to. For instance, you could learn about figure drawing, or pick up a choreographed dance, or you could do a free workout led by a professional trainer. Learn to cook a dish you've always wondered about. We live in an age where we can access almost any information we need on the internet -- why not take advantage of that?

Whether you choose to not buy anything this Friday or use these tips at another time when you just don't feel like spending, thinking about this sort of thing is a healthy habit to get into, because it forces us to look a little deeper at our consumer habits and whether they're actually serving us. 


Posted by Lindsay on 11/20/2018 to Events