Black Friday should really be changed into Give Back Friday or Buy Nothing Day* and be all about not buying anything and giving back instead.
Imported from America in 2013, Black Friday has a reputation as a day of frenzied shopping, with TV crews capturing images of shoppers pushing, grabbing, and even fighting their way to a bargain. It invites people to buy things they really don’t need at prices that should be a clear sign that someone else in the production chain is – one way or another – paying for their bargains.
Since then, the shopping frenzy has increasingly moved online (this is even more the case this year, of course), with around 75% of retailers in the UK participating in Black Friday.
Fashion Revolution reported today that a new study has suggested that in the UK, search engine queries for ‘cheap clothes’ increased by 46.3% between March and June 2020. The first thing we can learn from this finding is that it represents a downturn on financial security during the first wave of the global pandemic. Over-consumption can also be an unfortunate consequence of boredom, This search term suggests that people are not only facing financial hardships, but social ones that are being addressed through so-called ‘retail therapy’.
These numbers are not good from a sustainability perspective: if you are adhering to the philosophy of the 5 R’s (Reduce-Rewear-Reuse-Repair-Recycle) or just want to make sure you don’t buy more then you really need, than the hysterical overconsumption that this day stands for must leave you feeling quite depressed.
Thankfully there are more and more stores that decide not to participate and give something back instead. Patagonia for example decided to donate 100% of its global retail and online Black Friday profit to grassroots and non-profits working to protect the environment. In doing so it raised $10 million, a figure much higher than expected.
So what can you do instead of Black Friday if you are a business or store owner:
- Use the day to make a statement about not participating (and explain why)
- Use the day to promote a charitable cause.
- Provide discounts, but use some or all of the profits to support chosen charities.
- Use the event to donate appropriate items to those in need.
And what if you are a consumer? You can support business owners that do not promote Black Friday and help them in promoting their charitable causes.
Let’s make that change together!
* British fashion designer, Christopher Raeburn, closed both his store in East London, and the e-commerce section of his website. Using the hashtag #BuyNothingDay, the designer released the following statement on Twitter: “We simply cannot continue to consume the way we do. We need to start making considered choices; buying less but better. We’re therefore encouraging you to think twice before you make a purchase today. Even small steps will help and it’s important we all work together.”