Why Do We Allow The Fog Of Discount To Blur Our Commitment To Sustainability?
Image by Shopify via Burst
Black Friday has traditionally heralded the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the United States— observed on the fourth Friday of November every year, immediately after Thanksgiving Thursday.
Chasing the same old unsustainable high year after year, why do people keep rushing to Black Friday sales?
The Black Friday rush elicits primal cognitive impulses, leading to excessive purchases. The bustle accelerates exhilaration while dwarfing reason and logic, causing consumers to purchase items that they believe they can use later in the future only to end up not using them. The discount indicators deceive the mind that you’re getting a good deal, persuading you to overspend. The more you shop, the more active the brain neurotransmitters become, resulting in dopamine firework— you keep buying until the gratification sets in.
But for what joy? Time passes, and the products become a liability, rather than an asset— a plethora of new items with no apparent use, only to serve as a donation or make their way to the bin then onto landfills. All of these wasteful instances bring us to the question— isn’t our wellbeing more essential than a few cheap thrills from fast fashion?
Of course, this does not mean that Black Friday frenzy is not seductive— who wouldn't be captivated by a mega shopping mania with electric deals of the year? But it’s rather disturbing that what began as a day associated with a financial crisis has now become all about buying and mindless expenditures. Particularly during today’s alarming times where the socio-environmental ramifications of the fast fashion industry are more conspicuous than ever.
What is the problem with Black Friday?
Black Friday leads to environmental pollution by encouraging mass consumption. It also increases air pollution due to the numerous order shipments— customers desire expedited delivery at the same time, further exacerbating environmental costs. Then there is the excess packaging necessary to ship the things, along with returned items, which burdens the landfills. The Black Friday waste is rarely recycled, let alone done effectively— 80% of items end up in landfills, which includes plastic packaging.
Around 100 million Americans hit the stores during Black Friday sales every year, and the number of buyers is only growing. Amidst the proliferating risks of holiday shopping, what we can do is prioritize essentiality over slavishly hunting for big discounts to decrease the probability of extraneous wastes generated during Black Friday sale, or similar holidays like the Boxing Day.
Conscious consumerism helps us make decisions that are in line with sustainability goals and also, personal financial goals. We would be better equipped to tackle the tempting shopping spree if we take the time to analyze the magnitude of its impact on the environment and on our purchasing habits.
Image by Shopify via Burst
To remain financially prudent and not trapped in the hype this Black Friday, try:
- Repairing old items over replacing them with new ones. If you notice a ripped seam, stain, or hole, you don't have to go out and buy a fresh piece immediately. Find out if the product can be fixed before being replaced. If you have the time, equipment, and willingness to do so, you’d be delighted as to what can be brought back to life.
- Switching the role— be the seller instead of a shopper. Selling your old items over buying new ones could make you money. There are numerous websites where you can sell used collections, be it clothes, shoes, or even electronics. The buying-selling process is also usually simple, with quick cash payout and free product pickup.
- If you must shop, check to see whether you're truly getting the greatest bargain possible. Large shopping platforms like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy have officially started early Black Friday sales. Do your research well, as sometimes, Black Friday offers aren't as amazing as they appear— reselling old, unsold items from the previous year at a higher price. When you can support small businesses.
- Ditching the shopping day altogether by making alternate plans. The most effective method to avoid impulsive buying is avoiding shopping. Go visit your friends and families who are also sitting Black Friday out at home. Not having shopping as an option will reduce the temptation to shop.
Every year, as Americans recover from Black Friday sales, the Britons, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders (and other Commonwealth countries) prepare for the 26th December deals. Boxing Day, regarded as the most important shopping day of the year, fosters the same type of clearance prices, shopping hype, and environmental mayhem as Black Friday.
Now, wait— it’s not all bad news.
While confronting the crowds in quest of a good deal has long been a popular tradition around the world (though different dates & holidays), hopeful, interesting changes are happening as conscious shopping continues to grow in popularity.
Climate activism has gained tremendous popularity over the years. The initiatives of young activists like Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate, and Extinction Rebellion marches, among many others, have significantly contributed to educating the global community about the dangers of the climate change crisis.
A greater understanding of how consumer trends impact humans and the environment is leading to a gradual shift of views and practices in the right direction. And fortunately, the awareness of mindful shopping is also influencing the Black Friday and Boxing Day sales.
Several American retailers have devised strategies to prevent and mitigate the negative effects of the greatest shopping day of the year. Patagonia, a well-known sustainable outdoor apparel company, legendarily refuses its participation in Black Friday hype. Then there's Allbirds with its anti-black Friday initiatives and campaign break tradition, not the planet.
This Black Friday, Terra Thread will not be offering organic cotton canvas backpacks along with other items at a discounted price. We encourage you to be intentional of your purchase. Make absolutely sure that the particular product has a place in your life.
It's no longer feasible to pretend to be unaware of the enormous cost of regretful buys. The world, on average, releases 9 million tonnes of textile waste every year. Landfills are filling up with unwanted stuff, as we keep consuming more clothes than our earth can carry. Fashion has become one of the most toxic businesses as a result of our indifference. To minimize environmental degradation, consumers must limit consumption while businesses must manufacture things in more ecologically conscious, regenerative ways.
Take a moment to analyze what, how, and why you shop— if you’ve come this far, by now you are aware that the environmental afflictions caused by impulsive shopping are too painful. In that light, perhaps, take a raincheck on this year’s Black Friday rush?