As well all know, ‘Black Friday’ is quickly approaching (cue the scary music). Never has a so-called holiday sounded more ominous. Consumers arm themselves with credit cards and go to war with the crowds to snag ‘doorbuster’ deals. Big retailers stoke the madness with anxiety-inducing advertisements, reminding you that “it only happens once a year” (that is of course until boxing day, week and month begin).
When did this feeding frenzy hit Canada? Growing up, we accepted that Boxing Day was the biggest shopping day of the year. This is pretty logical – retailers need to clear out excess Christmas inventory. But Black Friday, always the day after America’s thanksgiving, began to creep north of the border in the late 2000s when big American retailers like Target and Walmart began running sales. As if Christmas shopping wasn’t stressful or expensive enough, we’re now being pushed to shop even harder.
Outside of all the anxiety and panic, there is another reason for Canadians to be a bit critical of this imported holiday: it’s only upping the ante on an already very wasteful season. Finding more days on the calendar to accelerate our consumption does not exactly sound like a solid environmental plan.
In America, some are swimming against the tide. Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia locked their doors on Black Friday in 2015, and in 2016 are donating 100% of sales from the day to environmental causes. In California, the Government is giving away 13,000 free passes to state parks on Friday so people can spend the day in nature rather than a shopping mall. Could Canada identify with these progressive values, or would we rather have frantic mobs violently sprinting through retail stores to secure a deal?
#GreenFriday in California – state parks are encouraging would-be shoppers to get outside instead.
Green Friday is a day to open up the holiday season with optimism, rather than panic. Instead of stalking sales in crowded shopping malls, we could think about our amazing natural environment, and the businesses that are putting in the extra work to preserve it. We could challenge businesses to make products that we would love to give and receive, without risking our planet or our health. We could use our Christmas budgets to support the type of future we want, rather than the doomsday, doorbusting frenzy of a manufactured holiday. It isn’t about stifling the economy or restricting consumption, it’s about recognizing that we may not need another holiday to celebrate it.
The first and second biggest polluters in the world are the oil and fashion industries, and both will feature prominently in Black Friday sales (think plastic appliances and mass produced clothing). Wouldn’t it be great to learn more about the Canadian labels that are confronting growing environmental and social problems, rather than reinforcing them? Whether it’s eco-friendly clothing, reclaimed wood furniture, or a product that supports environmental conservation, there is no shortage of awesomely eco products to purchase on Green Friday.
Alas, the best Green or Black Friday strategy would be to think twice about whether you need to purchase anything at all. If it is only a shopping holiday that makes you buy something, it’s more than likely that you don’t actually need it.
If you do plan on shopping this Friday, November 25th, support the type of future you want to see, and the businesses that are working hard for it. Tag #GreenFriday and share your favourite eco brands with the world.