I'm not going to lie, I have never been into the whole Black Friday thing. Maybe it's the fact that malls make me kind of claustrophobic (I don't like feeling lost indoors), or maybe it's because I just never was one of those people who NEEDED to buy this one specific thing or all would be lost. Regardless, I never have understood Black Friday or have felt compelled to participate in Black Friday, but that doesn't mean that you reading this post haven't in the past, or plan to participate in it again this week.
So for the person who has maybe been looking for a reason not to participate in Black Friday, is feeling a little financially tight right now but also is feeling the pressure to spend, or is feeling less than thrilled about any ideas for holiday gifts this post is just for you.
how black friday encourages fast-fashion, and mass produced goods
Consumers of course want a deal, and so they opt for the lowest price around, which will always be found at a larger retailer who most definitely is making compromises somewhere along the supply chain (usually in the form of labor and quality) to ensure that they can give you the shirt you have been eyeing for 60% off.
Remember back when you were a kid and your mom or dad would tell you that if something sounds to good to be true then it probably is. The same goes for our mass produced, fast-fashion, textiles, and home goods industries. There is a compromise being made somewhere along the supply chain that makes the prices you the consumer benefit from too good to be true.
what black friday does to small-businesses who are doing things right
Let's go back a ways to when Black Friday was truly about getting retail businesses out of the red and into the black. This was especially important for small-businesses who relied on this time of year when people would choose to spend a little extra at their small-business, which would help propel them into the New Year.
Unfortunately, this no longer is the case. With the insurgence of online shopping, fast fashion, and large department and retail stores who now open their "Black Friday" doors on Thanksgiving, small businesses are left in the dust.
As a society, we have begun to hold very little value for the things we choose to consume, which has directly correlated with the value and standards we hold the companies we buy from to. We aren't surprised when our H&M shirt falls apart in the wash, or our glass-wine glasses shatter with the slightest touch. We have grown so accustomed to prioritizing quantity and cost, over ethics and quality that we now are seeing the consequences with small business after small business closing, and more waste being produced each year by the textile industry alone than our environment has the capacity to handle.
here is the honest truth
- Small businesses who prioritize sustainable sourcing, enforce fair-labor practices, and have strict quality control standards are never going to be able to meet the same prices and discounts as their fast-fashion, mass produced competitors
- Small businesses who are doing things right continue to get squeezed out because they refuse to compromise the health and well-being of the consumer, the laborer, or themselves to make a sale.
So while in an ideal world everyone would choose to use Black Friday as a day to support companies who are doing things right, instead most people use Black Friday as a reason to spend a lot of money, on highly discounted items that most likely will still be on sale four weeks from now.
Because here's the thing, we now live in a world where there aren't just four seasons a year, there are fifty-two. Sales which used to be a few times a year are now constant, and a result of too much product, and a tool to get consumers to keep on buying until our closets are overflowing, our shelves are cluttered, and yet none of our things seem to hold any real meaning, or tell a story.
This is where Black Friday went wrong, and why it's time to break up. It may not be easy, but like the shitty boyfriend you had in college, the upgraded alternative is so much better.
how to break up with Black Friday
step one // if it's an impulse...just say no
Here is the thing. Impulse shopping is addictive, there is a rush to it. Looking for the best deals, trying to score that last item everyone wants, bragging about everything you purchased...especially the ones you got for "super-cheap". It is a natural impulse, hence why we call it impulse shopping. But like all other impulses in our lives, in order to break away from them we have to practice self-control. So this Black Friday I want you to say no to impulse. If you haven't been thinking about it for months, saving for it, or researching it, it's an impulse.
step two // plan a non-shopping related activity
Thanksgiving is such a fun time of year, and whether you are getting together to celebrate with friends or family, try planning a non-shopping related activity for Black Friday to keep the fun going without having to subject yourself to any crowds. Some of our family favorites are:
- Going to a morning run and making a late breakfast/talking about gift ideas for Christmas
- Getting coffee/drinks with friends who are home for the holiday
- Going for a long nature walk and talking about some fun plans or goals for the New Year
- Catching a new movie out in theaters
- Volunteering at a local non-profit, food bank, or animal shelter
step three // do some research
Remember Step Number One? Now that we have successfully avoided any impulse purchases let's talk about how to think about shopping for the holidays in a more sustainably conscious way. For me this always starts with making a list of the things I would like for the holidays both for myself and for others.
Once I have my master list, for the items that are for me I try to take a step back and think really objectively if I really need/want this item. Do I have very similar duplicates in my home or closet already? If so it probably is getting cut from the list. For the items that remain I start to research alternatives that are from companies or brands that support sustainable, ethical practices.
For instance, if I want to get my sister some pottery for her kitchen and I love something I saw online at Crate and Barrel, I take the Crate and Barrel image and start to search for local potters in my area or nationally that may be making something similar. I then look for which options fall in my price point, and most of the time will have to opt for purchasing less items, but much higher quality.
step four // avoid online shopping
Now for the purposes of breaking up with Black Friday we are going to say to avoid online shopping because it probably is the most common way that people do all their impulse shopping these days. However, I am absolutely not saying that you should never do any online shopping, because in fact some of the most sustainable, ethical brands out there only sell online.
But, on Black Friday let's just make it a rule to avoid all online shopping. And while we are at it, you should probably just go ahead and give your husband, boyfriend, or sister access to your email with the instructions to delete all online-shopping Black Friday emails.
The constant influx of sales and deals will be too much to handle if you are first trying to break-up with Black Friday. So make it a point to avoid all online shopping on Black Friday while you are transitioning towards this more sustainable way of holiday shopping.
step five // make a list of sustainable brands you want to support this holiday season
Now that you have decided you are breaking up with Black Friday, you are avoiding the malls, and have your lists of things you would like to buy with intention, now it's time to think about what sustainable brands and small businesses you would like to support.
Start with the companies that are in your area. If you have some clothing or home good items on your lists, search for handmade or locally made home goods or clothing. If nothing seems to be available in your area, search online for sustainable companies that are based in the USA or internationally and ship globally.
Once you have your list of companies you now want to support this holiday season I promise you will feel so empowered by the missions and stories behind the companies you are supporting, and products you will be recieving.
step six // shop local + with intention
I totally get that for many people a tradition with their mom or sister or friends is to go out shopping on Black Friday. For many, spending this time with their loved ones in this shopping atmosphere is what they have always done and what they want to continue to do, and I certainly don't want to take that away from you.
So this Black Friday, why don't you think about hitting up your local town centers, and small businesses in your area. Make a plan for what local coffee shop you will get coffee at, what local cafe you will eat at for lunch, and what local stores you want to check out. Maybe you will find lots of things on your holiday shopping list, or maybe you won't find anything, but if the tradition is spending time shopping with your family, it shouldn't need to take place in a mall or large department store to continue being a tradition.
For those of you looking to break up with Black Friday this year and support more sustainable small businesses I really am proud of you. I know this transition isn't easy at first, but I promise once you get started you won't look back.