As we enter into the holiday season of 2020, it is important that we reflect on the harmful nature of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on our planet and on our ethics.
On the Friday following Thanksgiving day, Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers from around the world hype up major and exclusive deals on their products creating an urgent energy that encourages holiday shoppers to get in on those deals before it’s too late. Since the rise in internet shopping, Black Friday sales has now been extended to include Cyber Monday and Cyber Week sales widening the scope of this shopping event.
While Black Friday seems to be more of a convenience, the holiday shopping frenzy it creates comes with a much darker reality. The consumer industry at large has a major ecological impact with its roots in encouraging folks to buy in excess. From the materials used for the products and packaging in addition to the production process, the effect on the environment isn’t taken into account when considering the life span of many of the products in question. Because of this, what Black Friday shopping promotes is a culture that encourages mass and overconsumption without any regard of the environmental and ethical impacts of these purchases.
To start, many retailers that participate on Black Friday don’t produce sustainably or ethically, making their products in themselves harmful to the environment and to the people involved in making them. In addition to the rise in cyber sales, the carbon footprint of these retailers is also incredibly high that when this massive influx of orders come in during the holiday season, the stats can be expected to get exponentially worse, especially in today’s climate as we continue to battle against the spread of COVID-19.
However, despite having all this in mind, it’s important to recognize that not everyone can afford to buy sustainable and ethical products, which are often more expensive, at the same rate. Because of this, sustainable and ethical brands should participate in their own ways to make their products more accessible to those in the process of transitioning their shopping habits to something more intentional and by encouraging them to buy small. Any support to the circular and sustainable economy is a step in the right direction towards making progress in the consumer industries.
How can we change the narrative of Black Friday?
As we find ourselves in the thick of holiday shopping festivities, we must take the time to educate ourselves and others about the harmful culture of shopping in excess. The culture of shopping needs to be shifted into one of conscious consumption. People should be encouraged to buy less, making the purchases that they do make more intentional.
While the best way to try to influence shopping culture during the holiday season is to boycott retailers who are participating in Black Friday sales, shopping consciously is a great way to redirect the wealth and intention behind your purchases. Always research the companies you’re supporting to see what kind of endeavors they support, if any, and to make sure that they’re philosophies and values fall in line with yours for guilt-free shopping. Look for companies that are clear with their values and that share positive contributions to causes you care about. Investing into businesses that are doing good and that are trying to change the industry for the better can bring us closer to a consumer culture that is beneficial for consumers, workers, and the planet.
How is ourCommonplace working to change the narrative of Black Friday?
This year, ourCommonplace will be donating 10% of every purchase made on 11/26 through 11/30 to the Malala Fund contributing towards a world where every girl gets access to quality secondary education. We want to use Black Friday as an opportunity to do our part to encourage more conscious consumerism habits over mass-consumption to redefine the meaning of Black Friday. On Black Friday, we shop with an impact. Click here to see what you can buy to help contribute to the Malala Fund and their mission.