Inbox crammed with shouty emails, sales signs swamping shop windows, and insistent targeted ads all day? Black Friday must be around the corner.
How will you be spending the 25th of November? Will you be hunting for a bargain, or does the frenzy just wash over you? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone, with one in three Brits planning to shun the event altogether (1).
In fact, there’s a growing counter culture movement to swap endless consumption for sustainable, ethical choices. Converts choose to buy from small, green businesses, go second-hand, or simply don’t spend at all. See ya later Black Friday, this year we’re all about Green Friday.
The dark side to Black Friday
On the outside, Black Friday may seem like an innocent way for brands to shift last season’s stock, and for consumers to bag a bargain. However, as the popularity of the trend has grown, a nastier side to the transaction has emerged.
Instead of saving old stock from the bin, Black Friday has become a way for big brands to make huge profits. Last year, Which? found that many so-called deals were the same price or more expensive than they were six months earlier (2).
Then there’s the flash sales and loud promos, which combined with urgency-based messaging and short-term discounts, prey on our fear of missing out, nudging us along the purchase journey before we’ve had proper time to consider. We get caught up in an emotional hotpot of fear and excitement, leading to a rush of endorphins and dopamine when we click ‘buy’.
The result? Products are purchased needlessly, adding to the cycle of landfill fodder. People get into debt, buying on credit cards and via Afterpay and Klarna (did you know, you can even buy a takeaway on credit? (3). And big brands get even bigger and more wasteful.
Leave the chaos behind
Enter Green Friday.
Started in Australia, this anti-Black Friday movement is bowling its way around the world. In the words of Green Friday founder Peter Krideras:
“We don’t need every single person to do sustainability perfectly. What we need is everyone to do sustainability imperfectly, at once, to deliver a greater impact.” (4)
This matches the behaviour of a growing segment of ethical consumers. According to KPMG’s 2021 Me, my life, my wallet report (5), 80% of people prefer to buy from brands whose actions align with their own beliefs and values. So if people buy into brands, rather than simply from them, is a cheap deal enough?
Green Friday isn’t necessarily about spending. It’s about consuming in a more conscious way. The number one priority is to ask ‘do I really need this, or am I getting caught up in the sale frenzy?’ If the answer is still yes, try to seek out green alternatives:
- Buy good quality items from sustainable brands that balance purpose and profit.
- Choose small, local businesses that make goods to last.
- Try shopping second-hand – eBay, Facebook marketplace, Vinted, and Thrift+ are all excellent UK brands, with bargains galore that save items from landfill. Win win!
- Something broken? Find a repair café nearby you could take it to. They’ll often repair items for free, or for a small donation.
- Step away from the screen. Break that urgency endorphin cycle and take time to consider your purchase. Sleep on it if you can, and come back to it with a clear mind.
- Decided you don’t need it? Why not donate a little money to your favourite charity instead?
Brands taking a fresh approach to Black Friday
Many brands have waved goodbye to the frenzy of Black Friday, from big organisations to small businesses. In fact, many small, local brands simply can’t afford to compete with the big brand reductions, so simply don’t.
Everlane, Passenger and Rapanui clothing brands are planting trees for each purchase this Green Friday, while IKEA is highlighting its sell-back programme. Sustainable marketplace Buy Me Once asked its customers which specific items they would like to be discounted. Finisterre is raising money for the Finisterre Foundation Wetsuit Project, to adapt wetsuits for those who struggle to access the sea. And then there are the well-known brands simply not participating, just like Patagonia.
How do you feel about Green Friday? Will you be bargain hunting, shopping sustainably, or not at all on the 25th of November? Give us a shout on Instagram, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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