You’ve probably never wrestled somebody for a 50-inch plasma-screen television. But this is an image emblematic of Black Friday, demonstrating the damaging behaviours and values such events can incite.
Black Friday is a festival of senseless consumerism which helps rocket the planet past its annual Overshoot Day months early (the date at which “[our] demand for ecological resources […] exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year”). If you’d prefer to opt out, then consider these options for a serene and fulfilling, shopping-free alternative 👇
Buy Nothing Day
Buy Nothing Day, a Canadian campaign opposing over-consumption, started in September 1992 before being moved to November’s Black Friday in 1997. Having since gained in popularity, becoming a well-established global network in over 60 countries, the initiative simply asks that you do NOTHING. Just DO NOTHING; switch off from shopping and tune into life.
Structured as a simple rule to spend no money for a whole day, it’s a 24-hour moratorium on consuming. Whether a personal experiment or a public statement, this detox allows you to escape the shopocalypse, participate by not participating, and shop less, live more.
If you do nothing on Friday and want others to know about it, you can tweet using #BuyNothingDay or #ShopLessLiveMore. Happy Buy N O T H I N G Day!
REI Co-op is a US outdoor retailer that originated the #OptOutside campaign in 2015. On Black Friday it closes all its shops, pays its employees to spend the day outdoors, and invites the rest of the world to join in.
The campaign has now been embraced by other businesses too, so you might see #optoutside attached to other brands and individuals. Time outside is more important than any shopping spree, so look up, and feel the cool breeze! They’re right: perhaps a walk-in-the-park prescription is what we all need.
Do join them outside.
You can join Earth Guardians for Blue Friday, another counter to Black Friday. This time, you have to do something positive in your community; those who join the Earth Guardians team on Friday will start by picking up trash and cleaning their street.
Youths, parents, mentors, and elders are asked to join this day of service, “because this is the time for collaboration and working together.” If you’re not in Boulder, Colorado, where the organisation is based, why not start a similar action in your town, city, village, or street?
Week for Waste Reduction
As it happens – not accidentally, I imagine – this week (17-25 November) is also the European Week for Waste Reduction: “an initiative aiming to promote the implementation of awareness-raising actions about sustainable resource and waste management.” It encourages a wide range of audiences to get involved (public authorities, private companies, and civil society as well as individuals).
And who wants to buy more when you’re trying to minimise your waste?! Landfills have had enough of Black Fridays.
Coincidence or not, it’s hard to commit to a Waste Reduction week and then go shopping on Friday regardless. It just doesn’t work, however you look at it.
Some organisations respond to Black Friday with a low-key response, like Traidcraft and the #JustFriday campaign, which it started in 2014. As the original fair trade pioneers in the UK – advocating the importance of organic farming, sustainability, and transparency to the lives of growers and artisans around the world – it’s easy to understand the desire to avoid the consumer stampede.
The campaign is a direct response to the “thoughtless shopping behaviour associated with Black Friday”; instead, the campaign encourages people to buy mindfully and ethically, and think twice about the destination of their money.
It’s also a reminder that behind the veneer of opportunity peddled by Black Friday, really, it’s just another Friday.
Join Reverend Billy Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir
If you’re lucky to be in the same city as Reverend Billy Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir, you’ll definitely experience life at the forefront of anti-consumerism. Join the activists-who-sing! “Rev’s church fired the patriarch, [and] has gratitude to the Earth during her big changes.”
You can follow them on Twitter and YouTube – or sing along to their live performances. 🕺
What? Cyber Monday? Whoops! We forgot about that.
And that’s a good thing.
See you outside! 🙌