“buy less and buy better”
We don’t have to enter the mayhem and madness that is ‘Black Friday’:
Every year the confusion and chaos of Black Friday descends … but beneath this more widely reported façade, there is a growing movement away from these impulsive and sometimes damaging behaviours, and towards a much more positive relationship with our lives, our world and all they have to offer.
Last year, a Cornish campaigner enjoyed a wild swim:
“Buying nothing but good vibes. Flogging only sun and winter sunshine,” he said at the time.
One big retailer says it’s trying to do its bit, however:
“The Green Friday offer is just a small part of our wider commitment to become climate positive by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. It’s also one of the many ways we’re supporting the pre-loved economy and encouraging customers to give their used furniture a second lease of life.”
We have to be careful of ‘greenwashing’, though, as the New Statesman‘s environment correspondent notes, with an excerpt from her piece this week:
As consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental strain that fast-fashion and planned obsolescence have on the planet, the attempted cover-ups are breaking down. The recent concept of “Green Friday” encapsulates this. Some companies have been pushing their environmental credentials to try to excuse the purchase (and over-purchase) of their highly polluting products. Plastics are advertised as “compostable” even when that has been shown to fail in practice, while fast fashion’s recycling promises clothes still too often end up in landfill.
Cathay Pacific Airways is a prime offender here, with its Green Friday offer to offset double the usual amount of carbon emissions for each ticket sold. “Companies linking offsets to promotional deals may reinforce the false impression among consumers that their emissions don’t need to be reduced and can simply be compensated through offsets,” warns Rob Macquarie, policy analyst at the Grantham Research Institute, a climate change think tank...
Amid the Black Friday greenwashing, however, are also businesses trying to counter the event’s culture of careless consumption. Before the clothing brand Patagonia decided to give away all its profits to combating climate change, it already did so with all profits from sales made during the Black Friday weekend. Similarly, for the fourth year in a row, the beauty brand Deciem will close all its stores and has blacked out its website, citing concerns around encouraging “panic-buying”. Individuals are also taking the trend even further, and committing the occasion to get out into nature or start a green habit, like eating more plant-based food.
Via good and ill therefore, Green Friday initiatives are helping to guide our modern, hyper-consumerist economy towards an existential confrontation with planetary limits. The answer is to “buy less and buy better” as the Green Alliance charity has advised. But whether retail culture can ditch the greenwashing and focus on getting the planet “out of the red” remains to be seen.