Buy Nothing Season in Halifax

Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Here’s another option for your holidays: avoid the gifting altogether.

If all of the gift-giving at Christmastime gets to be too much, you might want to consider having a Buy Nothing Christmas.

Buy Nothing is a movement started by a group of Mennonites in Western Canada in 2001 as a way of saying no "to the patterns of over-consumption of middle-class North Americans," says its website, buynothingchristmas.org. (Representatives from the site could not be reached for an interview.)

Ashley Cameron is a local supporter of a Buy Nothing Christmas.

"It really bugs me how much consumerism has engulfed what Christmas represents," says the 21-year-old from Halifax. "I thought this was a way I could support my beliefs."

Cameron is a Christian whose faith is very important to her.

"To me, Christmas is supposed to represent Jesus' birth. I feel the world has taken advantage of that and taken money from it. And then you've got Santa Claus and stuff. They've built it into something it wasn't supposed to be. So I'm trying not to support that."

But it isn't just faith-minded people who are into the idea of removing the consumerism from Christmas. Brad Milligan is a 26-year-old atheist and anti-capitalist from Halifax.

Last year, he had what he called a "China-free Christmas," meaning the gifts he bought for the four people on his list had to be locally made. His China-free Christmas is expanding this year---he won't be buying or receiving Christmas gifts at all. He says that even if he was religious, he doesn't understand why that translates to buying stuff at Christmas.

"I still don't see [why] I should go out to Walmart and purchase gifts for my friends and loved ones that were made in China," he says. "I've never been able to make that connection."

But isn't not buying gifts bad for our economy?

"Yes, and now we're getting close to the core reasons for why Buy Nothing Christmas is necessary in the first place," says the Buy Nothing Christmas website. "Our economy is based on a consumer driven capitalism...if we stop shopping, we stop the economy."

Simply put, our economy depends on people to buy stuff, both stuff they need and crap they don't need. But even a Buy Nothing Christmas recognizes that some things need to be purchased, as does Cameron.

"I might make some gifts for people," she says, allowing that making things can require certain purchases, "but I'm not going to be buying any new items for anybody." Cameron says these gifts will have meaning and purpose.

But if you feel you need to purchase something this Christmas, you might keep in mind a few things, as endorsed by the Buy Nothing folks: Stick to locally, fairly traded goods in environmentally friendly packaging, recycling or re-using, or buying items that are built to last.

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