Hailed as the biggest shopping event of the year, Black Friday is estimated to draw 164 million Americans to retailers this Friday with predicted sales at $682.0 billion dollars. Originally an American phenomenon, Black Friday has spread its tendrils across the globe carrying with it its many negative connotations.
We’ve all seen the images; frantic shoppers lining up before dawn, massive crowds aggressively pushing their way through storefronts, and customers physically fighting over televisions and tablets. The most perplexing element of this barbaric scene; it takes place just hours after a holiday based on gratitude.
The effects of Black Friday spread far beyond the embarrassment of frivolous human behavior. Rampant consumerism and mindless consumption have devastating consequences for the environment. The most effective way to stop environmental destruction is preventing it from happening in the first place. And the easiest way to prevent human consumption patterns from doing colossal damage is to cease mindless consumption.
Below, I’m sharing a few ways you can get into the holiday spirit sans crazy crowds and environmental destruction.
BUY NOTHING DAY
Founded in 1992 by Canadian artist Ted Dave, Buy Nothing Day encourages society to examine the issue of over-consumption. This symbolic day invites people to stop shopping for a day and reflect on what is truly necessary.
“Let’s make a new Black Friday tradition,” says outdoor co-operative and retail chain, REI. The company is closing it’s doors on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday and encouraging customers to #OptOutside instead. REI’s website even provides a search engine where you can type in your zip code and find outdoor actives near you.
PURCHASE WITH PURPOSE
If you feel compelled to participate in Black Friday, take the ethical route and shop secondhand. By purchasing a gently used item, you’re helping to keep things in circulation that would have gone into a landfill. You can also consider purchasing from brands that give a portion of their Black Friday sales to charitable causes. One of my favorite tea brands, Pukka Herbs, is donating 100% of their sales to The Forest of Avon Trust and The Matthew Tree Project this year.
GET ON BOARD WITH THE SLOW FASHION MOVEMENT
In a recent blog post I talked about the devastating impact that fast fashion has on both the environment and the garment workers lower on the supply chain. The slow fashion movement encourages consumers to think before they purchase. Slow fashion is (you guessed it) a slower process taken to design, source, produce and sell garments. In the process, companies often use eco-conscious materials, fair trade practices, pricing and sourcing transparency, all while challenging the traditional retail model.
GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME
If participating in the holiday madness is not your cup of tea, consider spending the day, or even just part of it, volunteering. Websites like Volunteer Match connect people to service opportunities based on their schedule, interests and skill set.