Black Friday commercially is a big hit. Last year in the US alone, 88 million people spent just under $9 billion, and Amazon accounted for just under 18% of all sales.
Environmentally however, those same profit boosting figures are a disaster. That's a whole lot of stuff bought, often impulsively, that has to be transported across the globe and we'd bet a huge portion of it is returned or languishes in cupboards and wardrobes rather than being used.
And then there are the companies that profit massively from Black Friday - many of them famous for putting those profits before the health of the planet. Do you want your hard earned money to fund their expansion? Every pound we spend can be considered a vote for the future we want to see and as individuals this is the easiest way to make a positive impact.
While it's tempting to shop for bargains this Black Friday, there are a growing number of ways you can support purpose lead businesses and ethical shopping campaigns instead and make your money work for the planet, not for global corporations' profits.
Taking place on Friday 25 November 2022, here are five ways you can make Black Friday work for the planet this year:
Green Friday was launched in retaliation to Black Friday in 2019. Green Friday reclaims the day and refocuses your role as being anything other than a consumer.
Green Friday encourages people to get outside, spend time with family, invest in self care or volunteer. Or just spend time on something you love doing, that doesn't require you to buy more stuff.
It also encourages those that can to donate to a charity or environmental cause instead of purchasing more things.
With nearly half of Black Friday purchases happening via our phones, what can you do away from your screen (and temptation) and reground yourself in nature?
In addition to this, many ethical brands support Green Friday with offers that give back to the environment, from planting more trees and donating all profits from the day to local causes, to shutting up shop completely to make sure their employees can also spend the day doing something more mindful.
Shop Ethical Instead
Since 2018, Ethical Hour, has run an annual Shop Ethical Instead campaign, highlighting the hundreds of indie sustainable brands that deserve your pennies.
Many of these don't run any Black Friday discounts, arguing that the full price is the ethical price, to ensure fair wages and supplier prices up and down their supply chains. If you can afford it, try and support a number of these brands this year.
Look for the #ShopEthicalInstead campaign which launches on 1 October 2022 for more details on who is getting involved this year.
While this isn't an actual movement around the day of Black Friday, choosing to buy preloved items as your first choice or buying from brands who reuse ingredients or materials in their products is a fantastic way to make your consumption more conscious.
From skincare that use upcycled waste ingredients like coffee ground at UpCircle to firehoses reimagined as washbags at Elvis & Kresse.
Buy Nothing Day
What feels totally radical in our age of hyper consumerism, really shouldn't. While buying nothing long term isn't a solution, pledging to buy nothing on Black Friday can feel like a powerful boycott of mainstream consumption. Can you pledge to buy nothing for a day?
And if all else fails, can you pledge to just buy what you need and not send back endless return parcels? A whopping 40% of clothing bought online is returned.
Did you know our growing habit of using the often free returns function from online brands causes 4.7 million tons of CO2 every year? According to Forbes around 17 billion items are returned around the world.
Not only are those emissions caused from the extra vans on the road (to cope with the growing number of parcels being sent back and forth) but also from the returned items, which are often binned or burnt rather than being resold, which is sadly easier and more cost effective for global brands.
Which of these ways will you choose to shop more consciously this autumn? How can you share these ideas or get family and friends on board as well?