Black Friday Vs Sustainability.
What is Black Friday?
The year is winding down, winter isn’t coming anymore, it’s here, and Christmas is nearly upon us. But before the holiday season kicks in, there is the ancient festival of “Black Friday” to celebrate! Of course, Black Friday is not ancient at all, it is a modern invention, but it does actually have roots in the 19th century. Although to me it just sounds like a very appropriate follow on to Halloween, or perhaps a tragic scene from Game of Thrones.
Anyway, as mentioned Black Friday’s roots can be traced back to the 19th Century when Thanksgiving became an official holiday in the United States of America. For the benefit of all you non North Americans out there, myself included, let me just drop this bombshell and tell you that Thanksgiving is, I am reliably informed, a bigger and more important holiday than Christmas for them. And Black Friday/Cyber Monday is part of this holiday, being the day after Thanksgiving.
So why am I giving you the Thanksgiving/Black Friday back story, and what has it got to do with sustainability? Well I wanted to give you a bit of context on Black Friday and its relationship to the North American holiday Thanksgiving, because it is a very real, very valid holiday and event in North America. People take time off work to spend with their families, they go to parties, eat food together, celebrate and give thanks for everything they have. And then Black Friday comes along the next day and people buy gifts for each other at discount prices.
I am not sure when Black Friday started becoming an event outside of North America, but the event grew legs and is widely known globally these days. It made a lot of sense for businesses to jump on the bandwagon and encourage people to spend their cash, giving discounts and advertising sales in the build up. And it made a lot of sense to consumers too. I mean we all love a good bargain right?
But the problem for me is that Black Friday has lost its soul, and its connection to a very real and important holiday for millions of people. Outside North America it has grown into a big greedy monster who is threatening to eat its parents!
The Rise of Sustainability.
I am new to the sustainability movement, and I am learning and trying to improve everyday.
But with that said, even long before I started this business I noticed a more mainstream growth in the availability of sustainable, eco friendly and ethically made products, and companies advertising them.
The sustainability movement’s ethos is very much at odds with the Black Friday, consumer culture ethos, in that one is, in simple terms, telling you to spend, spend, spend and consume, consume, consume and the other is the polar opposite.
The growing awareness of plastic pollution and its impact on our planet is just one example of where people are starting to become aware of the negative impacts of mass consumer culture, and the rush to buy things we probably don’t need at Black Friday sales.
So what is the answer? Shun discounts?
As a businessman and self proclaimed ecopreneur, I definitely want you to buy my products, and love them, and hopefully come back for more in the future. And yes, I am going to offer discounts at certain times of the year and to loyal customers! I would imagine businesses of all shapes and sizes around the world will continue the time honoured tradition of offering discounts as they see fit.
However, I strongly believe we as consumers need to be more mindful of how we shop these days. Be it deciding to stop buying plastic bottles of water because you have seen the horrific gigantic islands of plastic bottles floating in our oceans, or deciding not to go bargain hunting in the Black Friday sales.
Humans simply cannot continue consuming as we currently do without consequences for our planet and all life on it. We have a responsibility to right our wrongs, and at the very least clean up after ourselves. We need to consider buying less but better. So maybe that means checking if that t-shirt and sweatshirt you really want are made with organic, ethically sourced & sustainable materials. And if they are not, then consider looking for another company who do sell organic, ethically sourced & sustainable clothes with non plastic packaging (COUGH COUGH!).