Every Black Friday, shops worldwide lower prices and introduce limited one-day-only discounts. Unfortunately, this comes with chaos and confusion as people frantically try to spend as little as possible to get as much as possible. Sometimes, the rush turns into violence as customers fight over discounted electronics. This is not a good look, and many have frowned upon Black Friday's frivolous spending and compulsive taking.
Beneath all this chaos and overconsumption, a growing movement is shifting from impulsive and damaging shopping behavior towards a much more sustainable relationship with our lives and the planet. This is what Green Friday is all about.
So, what is Green Friday, and how can you get involved?
What is Green Friday?
Green Friday is an anti-Black Friday movement started in 2015 to create awareness about the negative impacts of society’s shopping habits. The first version of this event was in Canada in 1992 and referred to as “Buy Nothing Day”. The movement encourages consumers to embrace ethical and mindful shopping by buying either from sustainable, ethical brands or by not buying anything at all. It is an initiative that sees brands give back to the environment.
Green Friday is supported by multiple stakeholders, including representatives of the European Commission, ECODES, WWF, and Ecoserveis. They emphasize the importance of consuming in a way that respects the environment while meeting all of our needs. On this day, you are encouraged to reflect on your shopping habits and make better purchasing decisions supporting small or local brands and good causes.
When is Green Friday 2023?
This year, Green Friday will run concurrently with Black Friday from November 24th. It is a counter to the “shop-till-you-drop” mentality of Black Friday. Participating in this year’s Green Friday is simple: purchasing mindfully and sustainably from your local brands.
Why is Green Friday so important?
Green Friday is rapidly growing every year as more retailers and consumers stand in solidarity with eco-conscious shopping. It pushes against the wastage from impulse buying during the Black Friday rush. To understand why Green Friday is so important, we must understand the history and the negative impacts of Black Friday on the planet.
Black Friday and its impact on the planet
Black Friday is a post-Thanksgiving sale, originally from the US, characterized by traffic jams, intense crowding, and catfights at the downtown retail stores. It is a traditional starting signal for Christmas shopping. Over time, this shopping phenomenon has expanded globally, including a “Cyber Weekend,” with deals starting earlier.
The “dark” side
- In 2021 Online shopping on Black Friday was expected to produce over 380,000 tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere
- Small retailers cannot compete with giant fast brands, especially with increased discounts
- Over 80% of items and plastics end up in incineration, landfill, and sometimes low-quality recycling after a very short time
- Approximately 12 deaths and 117 injuries between 2006 to 2018 resulted from stampedes and catfights on Black Friday
- Black Friday significantly contributes to the amount of E-waste, which is dangerous to human beings and the environment
- Black Friday is stressful – you need to get up very early to catch the sale and beat other customers to the cash registers, which often ends up in violence
Green Friday vs. Black Friday
Black Friday offers you significant discounts to ensure you buy and consume more for less. Unfortunately, this means that you may end up engaging in negative consumerism, which often leads to wastage and increased carbon emissions. Due to the lower prices, you end up investing in things that are not worthwhile.
On Black Friday, you risk being hurt due to the chaos resulting from frenzied shopping. In addition, you are subjected to long queues outside the stores, which sometimes means missing Thanksgiving Day just to access lower discounts and special offers.
On the other hand, Green Friday gives you a choice to reduce your environmental footprint by buying sustainably and supporting local brands. It is an opportunity to rethink the items you’re buying and ensure you only purchase the things you need. On this day, you are not subjected to the hysterical shopping frenzy of Black Friday. Instead, you can spend quality time with loved ones, in nature, or doing what you love.
Notably, Green Friday is one of the sustainable options for Black Friday. It is about being more considerate of yourself and the planet.
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How to make your Black Friday more green
As a society, we’re addicted to shopping because it can be therapeutic and rewarding. One of the psychological reasons why people over-shop is because they get a burst of dopamine, a feel-good hormone that comes with purchasing things, especially those on sale. However, there are various ways to make your shopping habits greener:
- Make a list- it will help you remain focused and intentional about your purchases
- Set a budget to avoid overspending because you found a “good deal.
- Consider sustainable brands and local retailers
How can you get involved?
There are several things you can do to get involved in Green Friday. If you still want to shop, you can focus on purchasing from sustainable and ethical brands. Ideally, you can find these by checking out the official Green Friday website or googling to identify green brands. In addition, ask yourself, “Do I really need this item, or am I buying it because of the sale?” This way, you will avoid waste by buying unnecessary items.
You can also choose to consume less during Black Friday and throughout the year. And if you need some inspiration on how less can mean more, you can look at the minimalist lifestyle and identify something that resonates with you. Additionally, you can buy upcycled or recycled items to reduce wastage.
Should you not shop at all in November?
No, you do not have to stop shopping in November. If everyone stopped shopping, some companies would be out of business, especially small start-ups and local businesses. Participating in the Green Friday movement does not mean you have to abstain from shopping entirely. It simply means avoiding being swept away by the shopping frenzy and being more eco-conscious in your shopping habits. This way, you protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint and contribution to e-waste.
How can brands take advantage of Green Friday?
Consumer demographics are changing, and as millennials and Gen Z customers amass more purchasing power, sustainability is becoming a top priority. A recent study found that most Gen Z consumers are willing to spend up to 10% more on eco-friendly products. So, brands can take advantage of Green Friday by letting their customers know they align with sustainable values. Some ways brands can take advantage of Green Friday include:
Offering discounts on sustainable products
Instead of offering store-wide discounts, brands can use Green Friday to highlight products with a small environmental footprint and local goods. This way, they promote awareness of eco-friendly alternatives and how to embrace sustainable shopping habits. If your brand doesn’t feature a lot of sustainable and local goods, Green Friday is an opportunity for you to review your approach.
Host sustainable events and workshops
Brands can use Green Friday to host workshops and events encouraging consumers to be more sustainable. During these events, you can feature local experts who can teach about relevant topics such as circular fashion, zero-waste living, or the slow food movement.
Donate to sustainable causes
You can still draw in customers with great offers on Green Friday. For instance, you can offer the option to contribute to eco-friendly initiatives such as planting trees. You can also donate part of your profits or a certain percentage of each customer’s purchase to an environmental initiative.
Show “gently-used” items some love
Most of the things that people toss still have some life left in them. Brands can restore and rehome some of the things that would have otherwise been discarded, to reduce the emissions it takes to manufacture new products. For example, in 2021, IKEA embraced Green Friday by buying back and reselling items their consumers no longer wanted. In doing so, they shifted the collective mentality attached to second-hand goods and reduced their carbon footprint.
Examples of brands offering Green Friday sales
Ethical brands have taken various approaches to Black Friday, including boycotting the sale altogether. Patagonia is among the brands that have decided not to support Black Friday. The brand already embraces sustainability by donating 1% of its revenue to preserving and restoring the natural environment.
In 2020, Patagonia donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental causes. In addition, the brand encourages its customers to purchase gently-used items in their “Worn Wear Program”. Studies show that extending the lifespan of clothes by 9 months decreases environmental impacts by approximately 20-30%, compared to buying new items. By encouraging people to consume less, Patagonia is doing Black Friday right. In selling gently-used items, the brand encourages a circular economy and makes a big difference in climate, waste, and water consumption.
If you’re planning to shop this holiday season, we’ve identified several brands that offer Green Friday Sales:
- Tribe Alive
- Armani Beauty
The Green Friday Movement is quickly gaining momentum. And an increasing number of brands are embracing the efforts to educate consumers on eco-conscious consumption and shopping. You can turn Black Friday green by creating a new shopping tradition that respects the environment instead of participating in the overconsumption and the wastage of the traditional Black Friday.
Instead of frivolous buying, you can shop with sustainable brands, purchase refurbished electronics, buy less or skip the sale altogether. Embracing these techniques clearly conveys that massive overconsumption is wasteful and harmful to the planet. So why not turn this Black Friday into Green Friday?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Green Friday?
Green Friday is an anti-Black Friday movement started in 2015 to create awareness about the negative impacts of society’s shopping habits. On this day, you are encouraged to reflect on your shopping habits and make better purchasing decisions supporting small or local brands and good causes.
When is Green Friday 2023?
Green Friday will run concurrently with Black Friday from November 24th, 2023.