Buy Nothing Day Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 7 - 12

Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

media representationconsumer awareness

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson Buy Nothing Day is used as a jumping-off point to look at the role of consumerism in our lives and culture. Students learn the definition of consumerism and consider its benefits and drawbacks; as well as where and how they receive consumerist messages. Students list their own recent purchases and consider how many were needed as opposed to wanted. They are then introduced to Buy Nothing Day and discuss its purpose and merits. Finally, students imagine that Buy Nothing Day is a holiday on par with Christmas and plan either a pageant or television program to celebrate the event.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Define and debate the pros and cons of consumerism
  • Survey consumerist messages in their lives
  • Analyze their own purchases
  • Plan a pageant or television program
  • Preparation and Materials

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) is available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit