Black Friday, the Friday after American Thanksgiving, marks the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. This is a period that greatly helps retailers turn to profit, going from being in the red to being in the black. Black Friday comes with cosmic discounts, special offers, online markdowns, but it is also accompanied by tremendous violent stampedes, chaos, environmental and social damage. 

         It is important that we stay conscious this holiday season and take a stand against overproduction and overconsumption. The Netherlands ranks 10th for Black Friday search volume, an increase of 100% since 2016. On top of that, Black Friday began in Holland in 2015 with around 35 stores participating. In 2018, this number increased to 166 stores. Just a tiny country like the Netherlands is able to create such a widespread impact on environmental and social challenges all by giving into the marketing by the money-money-money retailers. 

         Black Friday is the sore spot of an industry which is fueled by overproduction. When we give into and buy the “good deals” like “half-off!”, “buy one and get one free”, and more, we are sending a message to hundreds of brands that it is okay for them to produce without thought, at the cost of people and the planet. 

        But can Black Friday ever become sustainable? Will it ever care for the workers who are working their hands bloody? Or will it ever take a step back to look at how it is depleting the planet’s resources? The event, at its core, promotes hyperconsumerism. It is up to organizations to be brave and make strong statements to go against the trend and restrict the wave of ugly consumerism. 

       For example, in 2018, Marks & Spencers decided to not discount on the day and stated that it would not “be buying into the retail bonanza”. Other stores such as Christopher Raeburn, a British fashion designer, closed stores in East London and shut down the e-commerce section of his website. He released the following statement on Twitter:  “We simply cannot continue to consume the way we do. We need to start making considered choices; buying less but better. We’re therefore encouraging you to think twice before you make a purchase today. Even small steps will help and it’s important we all work together.”

        Another bold example, is of course, Patagonia which has been using Black Friday for fundraising efforts. In 2011, the advertisement “Don’t Buy This Jacket” was displayed in New York. In 2016, it donated 100% of its global retail and online sales, a whopping $10 million, for Black Friday to grassroots and nonprofits aimed at protecting the environment. 

       These are just a few examples of not only sharing your values but raising awareness of important challenges our world faces today. We urge more companies to take a brave stand and help our people, environment, and planet.

This Black Friday we challenge you to Buy nothing, repair something!

Article by Dolly Vellanki, Community & Fashion Manager at the Erasmus Sustainability Hub.

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