Over the years Black Friday has become synonymous with videos of people obliterating shopping malls in search of deals ahead of the holidays. I just watched a couple of these videos to refresh my memory and instantly regretted it. Although the day is gaining notoriety with each passing year, a growing movement of people are opting to spend the day bucking this trend; choosing instead to reflect upon their habits as consumers, or spend time outdoors making a positive impact on their environment. Here’s a quick recap of some brands working to create a new version of Black Friday, ideas for alternative activities to clotheslining people at Best Buy, and enviro-friendly purchasing options if you are dead set on getting a deal on November 24th.
BREAK THE CYCLE
Here are some examples of activities that are much nicer than showing up to the mall at 4am:
1.) Take a hike: Go explore your local trails, slopes, and breaks. In honor of altering the holiday, California State Parks has distributed free day-passes to 116 state parks. Last year over 35,000 people chose to spend “Green Friday” enjoying being outside. You can check out the list of participating parks here. If you’re not located in California, don’t be discouraged- check out a park anyway and maybe take the time to write to your local parks body requesting that they follow suit.
2.) Get cleaned up: Round up your friends and family, grab a couple of trash bags and gloves, and go clean up a local area. You’ll be amazed at what you find. Make sure you dispose of everything effectively, trying to recycle as much as possible so that the trash doesn’t make a reappearance further down the track. Enthusiasm for this Black Friday activity is growing quickly, and there will likely be other cleanups going on in your area if you’re keen to tag along- a quick web search should point you in the right direction.
3.) Check your inventory: Reflect on your consumer habits and how well they line up with your ethics. So often people purchase items out of convenience or perceived necessity, even though they want to be environmentally conscious. If everyone took a couple of minutes to educate themselves on where our trash ends up, and how we can all take steps to reduce our personal impact on the planet, the ramifications would be far reaching. Check out this slick site to find out what your personal resource consumption looks like.
4.) Minimal effort: Similar to the previous point, why not take stock of what items are essential to your life and what aren’t. This is a great opportunity to go through your wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, tech drawer, etc, and figure out what is helpful and what is getting in the way. As colder weather rapidly approaches, lots of shelters will most likely make good use of your surplus belongings- just call ahead to find out what type of donations they’re accepting. On the same note, this is a great excuse to make use of your Thanksgiving leftovers. Get your friends and family over to enjoy Turkey sandwiches, remnants of pumpkin pie, and perhaps a discussion on reframing Black Friday.
LEADING THE CHARGE
While a growing number of companies are opting to close down on Thanksgiving (think Apple, Costco, The Home Depot, etc) under the guise of morality, this is often a self-serving decision (you can read more here if interested). Although no brand is perfect, I’m going to highlight brands that are encouraging their customers to have a positive impact on their surroundings this Black Friday.
“We know a life outside is a life well-lived” says REI’s Steve Wood. In that spirit the retail giant has decided to close its doors on Black Friday, giving all employees a paid holiday on the 24th and encouraging customers to “opt outside” for the day.
In a bid to encourage customers towards this end they have built out a page on their site dedicated to the #optoutside movement, complete with an array of inspirational nature pics (including an #adventuredog section deserving of a slow clap). Slick marketing campaign? For sure, but any push for people to connect with nature vs connecting with a rival consumer’s fist over a 52″ TV is a win in my eyes.
UNITED BY BLUE
UBB is a company built around offering high quality clothes and other items that are as responsible as they are durable (and their bags all come with a lifetime guarantee). Their products are also all made out of sustainable materials, and for every item sold they remove a pound of trash from the earth’s oceans and waterways. Not too shabby! But before you rush to their site, fistfuls of cash in hand, let me introduce you to their own Black Friday campaign- or “Blue Friday” as they call it.
The Blue Friday campaign marries REI’s #optoutside spirit with UBB’s trash awareness. They have created a DIY cleanup database to help people join forces on the 24th, all you need to do is check out the map on their site. Here you can either search for clean ups in your area, or add your own. For those of us getting into trash removal for the first time, they have clean up kits for $5 and helpful information on what to do with trash once it’s been collected.
Patagonia certainly doesn’t need an introduction, and most likely you’re familiar with their environmentally-friendly pursuits (ranging from their Wornwear campaign, to their Damnation film, to their neoprene-free wetsuit). On Black Friday they will be donating 100% of their global sales- both in store and online- to grassroots organizations. They’ve also provided information on these groups online, localized to the viewer’s area, so you can get an idea of the impact that your purchases will have.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
Don’t forget that November 25th is Small Business Saturday, an excellent opportunity to support local businesses in your area. Many of these businesses will also be paying it forward by donating percentages of their sales to local charities and organizations.