Buy Nothing Day


The breaking news in all newspapers and TV channels was about India’s adoption to the Buy Nothing Day (BND).

There were intense debates and opinions on the pros and cons of BND.

Few protested – especially from the industry and retail business, and several celebrations were held in the streets mainly by the environmental activists. BND is a great idea – they said.

Whats Buy Nothing Day?

Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against consumerism. BND was founded in Vancouver by artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by Adbusters magazine, based in Canada.

The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Canada in September 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, BND was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, also called “Black Friday”, which is one of the ten busiest shopping days in the United States. Soon, campaigns started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Norway and Sweden. Participation now includes more than 65 nations.

I suspected that that my Professor friend played some role in advising and convincing the Indian Government to join the BND movement. I therefore called upon him and we met at our usual coffee shop. We settled at the round table in the coffee shop’s verandah. An Ethiopian coffee was served with complementary ginger biscuits. The waiter got for the Professor a large ash tray.

“Well, observing BND was my suggestion to the Government” – Professor said this and lighted his cigar. It’s a tactical move to show India’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are bound to be however some hiccups that we have to address. Some good ones– and some bad. I am working on these.

I looked at the 48” LED screen on the wall. The Times Now channel was showing shots of streets of Mumbai –Live!

I saw a huge gathering at the streets of the junction of the flora fountain in front of the HSBC. Adv Deshpande, Chairman of Grahak Sangh was addressing the rally. He was proposing that we cut up the credit cards on the BND to express our concern on the rising consumerism. All patrons of Mumbai Grahak Sangh will stand outside City’s prominent malls with a pair of scissors and at sharp 12 am they will cut their credit cards.


People Cutting Credit Cards in the US on BND

I thought the idea was dramatic and really impactful. Besides, this action would mean helping people who want to put an end to mounting debt and extortionate interest rates thrust by the credit card companies.

But if the citizens who will cut the cards ask for replacements later – then I thought that the cost of replacement would be quite high. And it will also lead to big inconvenience to the credit card companies – I therefore wondered whether it was the right action on BND.

In the meanwhile, Professor ordered another round of coffee.

There was a group of people sitting on the larger roundtable next to us. A Woman having a Green Tea was talking about the “Zombie walks” to her friends.

[On the BND, people in the United States and UK take on “Zombie walks”: These “zombies” wander around shopping malls with funny dresses and with a blank stare. When asked what they are doing – the participants describe what Buy Nothing Day is about. It’s like a fashion parade of crazy]


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“We should go Zombie on the BND of India”. The Woman with Green Tea said. She suggested that in order to make a good impact, all should follow a certain theme e.g. a saffron dress. We could dress like Radha Maa for instance. This will bring in a new spiritual dimension. The Woman made more such suggestions based on dresses she saw in some of the Page 3 parties.


Radhe Maa

Most folks on the Table were excited and decided to meet once a week to plan ahead for the Zombie walks on BND. “This will be something special– and so different to work on. And it will keep us busy. Let me speak about this to my friends in the next Rotary meeting”. Woman having fresh lime soda said.

In the meanwhile, waiter at the coffee shop came and changed the channel to CNN-IBN as someone complained about Arnab Goswami. CNN-IBN channel was showing a clip of the pilot BND activity at the Ambience Mall in Delhi to get a kind of preview. This was a procession like event carried out under Sunita Narain’s leadership. Here, the participants silently steered their shopping carts in a long, baffling line without putting anything in the carts or actually making any purchases. The storekeepers were shocked to see this human chain moving. Sunita said that this was only a pilot or a dry run but on the actual BND, such processions will happen at 110 malls of India from 14 cities and already 10,000 people had signed up.

I thought that this was very impressive. To counteract, I was told that many retailers like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Fresh had come up with a strategy to give hefty discounts to the purchases made on BND and lure these people to “buy something”

The Professor said “this is nothing. Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy and Vandana Shiva have come together to support BND. All the NGOs who listen to them, will not only ban buying for twenty-four hours but also keep their lights, televisions, computers and other non-essential appliances turned off, their cars parked, and their phones turned off or unplugged from sunrise to sunset.  The BND will thus be remembered and talked about over another month because of all the inconveniences caused in this process.

I said “Very Interesting strategy”

The Professor continued.

There are some issues however. Many women from Malabar Hill in Mumbai for example plan to get admitted in Breach Candy and Jaslok hospitals one day in advance to face the trauma of not able to shop. These women for their health and solace of mind need to shop “something” every day. If shopping cannot be done then there could be a crisis situation for them such as high hypertension, heart palpitation, irregular breathing, profuse sweating, temporary loss of memory etc. Both Breach Candy and Jaslok have set up special BND ward for this purpose where such Women can be admitted and treated.  The charges are Rs 100,000 that these women and their husbands are happy to pay. To them, BND could be dangerous.


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I said “I understand and I do have sympathies”

“Consumerism is too deeply ingrained in the society and culture to be eradicated in one day of abstinence. Everyone has simply become accustomed to this and it is one of those things that cannot be fixed overnight” I said

Professor extinguished his Cigar and I continued

“Further, after a day where people can’t buy nothing, the next day people will spend double the amount, and also the day before, because people will buy things they think is necessary. The retailers, shopkeepers and businessmen will hike the prices one day before and day after BND and thus will make tons of money! I hope that’s not the idea?

The Professor did not respond.

“It seems that there are around 1 million shopping transactions happening on-line. How would you handle this shopping on BND? I guess these portals will not operate and we will see the page “Site Closed for Today. Is this the plan?”- I couldn’t resist asking

On the contrary, Professor said. These web sites will remain open. They will let you book the orders but there will not be any deliveries of products on the BND as a principle. And if you book the order on BND then you will be required to pay a surcharge of 10%. This surcharge will reach the Government’s treasury.

“Wow – very clever Professor  I smell a rat here” I said this while settling the bill.

Thank God that BND is not made mandatory and that it is just for a day and not a week. Imagine what could happen if a BNW or Buy Nothing Week was to be observed. May be rich and consumptive nations need a BNW.


Cover picture sourced from

Buy Nothing Day, Are you Celebrating?


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