How Black Friday’s going Green, one year on

Green Friday may be back for another year, but has anything changed? Is the move to conscious consumerism thriving, or is the cost of living crisis eating into consumers’ ethical shopping desires?

by Bella Ali-Khan | Environmental | 24 November 2023

This time last year, we discussed all things Green Friday, based on a steadily-growing counter culture rallying against Black Friday’s aggressive consumption. We looked into the nasty side to Black Friday, with ever-increasing wastage of perfect products, debt-build up, and unfair pricing. 

So, this 24th November, what can we expect – pile it high deals, or a more considered, greening up of Black Friday?

Overconsumption is given a black mark

2023 has been the year of reduced consumption, for a number of reasons. Driven in large by the cost of living crisis, many have less disposable income, so naturally, people have been scrutinising where their money goes. 

Interestingly, this has also been the year of de-influencing, which was in the Collins’ Dictionary most notable words of 2023 list (1). Across TikTok and Instagram, we’ve seen a huge rise in influencers encouraging their followers to buy less and buy better. These de-influencers are simply adapting to the economic downturn to make sure they resonate with their followers, showing an inherent trend away from impulse spending. 

And then there’s an undercurrent of distrust, with consumers becoming ever-more aware of greenwashing, holding brands to account. We saw this with the launch of the ITV investigation, which revealed Amazon destroying millions of perfect items in UK warehouses (2). It’s also unsurprising that Which? now has a Black Friday deals debunking page (3), saying: ‘given the cost-of-living crisis, it’s likely that people will be keener than ever for low prices this year, but they may be more selective about what they buy.’ (4)

All this leaves a bitter aftertaste, so where does Black Friday sit now, and how does Green Friday come into all this?

All hail second-hand efficiency

As consumers tighten their purse strings and big brands are called out for dirty dealings, the green movement grows. 

Vinted is now Europe’s biggest app for buying and selling used clothes, with the app’s 2021 revenues rising 65% from the previous year. And increasing a further 37% in the first nine months of this year (5). Second-hand fashion is booming. This means if consumers want to treat themselves to a little luxury during tough times (known as the Lipstick Effect), they can do so while also feeling good about the environment. 

Where consumers are spending, there seems to be real drive into making homes and lives more efficient and economical. Sales of air fryers at Argos are up 420% year on year (6), with slow cookers, heated airers and heated blankets similarly flying off shelves. 
In direct response to this, Currys has announced it will be offering a Green Friday sale, offering savings on appliances that reduce energy usage. The brand will also be waiving its fee to collect and recycle old appliances. Instead paying customers to recycle electronics (7). This follows Currys’ research, which found that 36% of Brits plan to purchase second-hand tech during Black Friday and Christmas shopping (8).

So how can brands do Green Friday sustainably?

Key is to discover what feels authentic for your brand. Many small brands simply cannot compete with Black Friday deals. But that’s the beauty of Green Friday – it can be about buying less, buying better, or even donating that money to a good cause. 

Here are our tips for approaching Green Friday as a sustainable brand: 

  1. Highlight your green credentials 

Focus on what makes your brand and your products ethical or sustainable. Take your audience on a journey and show them why your prices are what they are. Equally, make sure everything you communicate is true and can be validated. Greenwashing will deter people from your brand, rather than creating loyalty. 

  1. Donate to charity 

Some brands offer donations to charity on Green Friday, whether it’s matching sales prices, donating all profits from the day, or simply giving a lump sum to a chosen environmental charity. 

  1. Partner with a like-minded brand 

Run a competition to highlight your sustainable products. This is a great way to grow each other’s audiences and promote your shared ambitions for a more sustainable future.

  1. Shout out your suppliers and employees 

Show the people within your brand, such as highlighting your teams with behind the scenes shots. Black Friday reduces items to a price point, so celebrate the people, ingredients and processes that bring your products into creation. 

  1. Start a second-hand swap shop for your brand

If your product can be rehomed, help your audience to gift or sell their products to others. An unloved product sitting in the back of the cupboard doesn’t do your brand any favours. So, build awareness and encourage longevity by facilitating a second-hand market. 

Most important is not to feel daunted. As Melissa Drennan, CEO of Green Friday says, we’re seeing: “An increase in greenhushing, where brands trying to make a change are worried about sharing their progress. It shouldn’t be this way…It’s progress over perfection.” 

“A small change made by a large group has a bigger positive impact than a big change only made by a few.” (9)

How do you feel about Green Friday? Is it fluff or the future? Hit us up on social media. Or if you’re in need of strategic or creative support with your sustainable journey, we’d love to chat: