Black Friday returns on Nov. 27 and shops across the country are preparing to slash prices and introduce limited one-day-only deals. Ever since the UK adopted the American discount event, we've become accustomed to seeing customers fight over discounted electrics and other half-priced goods. It's not a good look and many have criticised Black Friday for promoting over-consumption. In response, environmental activists champion a greener alternative – but what is Green Friday and how can consumers get involved?
Green Friday (also known as the 'anti-Black-Friday movement') was started to help raise awareness about the impact of society's shopping habits. It's unclear who kickstarted the movement, but Cultura Collective notes that the earliest version of this event "was born in Canada in 1992, and it was called 'Buy Nothing Day.'"
Green Friday challenges consumers to not rush to the shops and instead choose to shop sustainable brands or not shop at all. While it can be difficult to resist those big red 50% off sales tags, research says most shoppers tend to buy more than they need (or even want) on any given day. As Oxfam noted during its 'Secondhand September' campaign, "every week 13 million items of clothing ends up in UK landfill" and adds that throwaway fashion is putting "increasing pressure" on our planet and its people.
For the keen deal-hunters among us, resisting a sweet Black Friday discount is not as simple as putting the blinkers on (I struggle with this). Environmental charity The First Mile suggests shoppers "take a moment to reflect" whether you really need that item and why. If you must purchase something, then the charity encourages people to shop local as the "easiest way to reduce the carbon footprint of our purchases while supporting small businesses." Due to the pandemic, local retailers need support from customers more than ever so Black Friday seems like a great place to start.
With the UK high street closed for a month-lockdown this November, it's likely many people will want to opt to shop for half-priced goods online. Yet, with one-day shipping and large volumes of plastic packaging, it's hard to ignore the detrimental environmental impact this can have. Amazon, which offers pretty tempting Black Friday deals each year, is known to have one of the largest carbon footprints of any business. Though the online giant launched an "eco-friendly" option to the site last month, Amazon emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year.
As Christmas rapidly approaches, Black Friday tends to give the high street some of its biggest sales of the year but signs say customers aren't as swayed by knock-off good as they once were. Per Internet Retailing, "a third (36%) of Brits are buying more from companies with strong environmental credentials as priorities shift during the pandemic."
Christmas shopping will be a little different this year, but this Black Friday why not go green?