Black Friday is almost here (November 27) and we at EWP have been receiving a lot of emails from conscious businesses relating to this American-founded sales day. Some brands are taking part in sales and promotions while others are taking a ‘no’ stance.
Citizen Wolf, an award-winning Sydney-based business that custom makes t-shirts using on-demand technology to cut out waste, is “hijacking Black Friday” with its Black Fridye concept, offering a garment re-dyeing service to extend the life of any garment by any brand brought in by a customer. “Black Fridye delivers the same dopamine hit as hauling something on discount, but with 95% less carbon,” says Zoltan Csaki, cofounder at Citizen Wolf. According to the business, re-dyeing clothing creates 95% less carbon compared to virgin manufacturing.
Ethical jeweller, Arabel Lebrusan of Lebrusan Studio, announced that she would be boycotting this year’s Black Friday and instead, will be donating 20% of sales proceeds from the cyber weekend (27th November to 1st December), to The Water Project, a charity whose aim is to grant access to clean and reliable water across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Spanish brand BEFLAMBOYANT, makers of unisex sustainable vegan sneakers, is taking a firm stance against the sales day, launching their #SayNoToBlackFriday digital campaign aimed to raise awareness about the harmful effects of Black Friday on the environment. “Brands must step forward and oppose this auction of materialism, it is a meaningless day that causes terrible damage to the planet,” said BEFLAMBOYANT founders Jorge Lopez Rodriguez and Tatiana Gonzalez Martinez in a press statement.
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Given the economic and financial impacts of pandemic lockdowns on businesses and individuals, we turned to our sustainably-minded Instagram community and sought their views on the following questions relating to Black Friday.
- If you run an ethical or sustainable brand, are you planning to take part in Black Friday this year? Have you ever taken part before? Why/Why not?
- If you are a shopper, do you plan on taking advantage of the sales this year? Why/Why not?
As expected, the responses we received were mixed.
One follower “Niina” acknowledges that bargain shopping could lead to waste, but shares that she would do some in-store shopping of small and local stores and would only take part in online shopping “if that was my only option with the store”.
Another follower “kafurineee” writes: “I do plan on taking advantage of the sale this year for a vacuum and maybe a gift or two for the upcoming Christmas holidays. This is not particular to Black Friday, more so I have a need for those items and hence on the look out for sales.”
Isabella Lynnette, self-described ‘organic guru’ and founder of wellness platform Fuel for the Body believes people should veto the day. “Just boycott this day. Even boycott the cyber Monday. It’s all commercialized anyway I shop every week and put dollars where they count FOR the planet.”
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Lynette has a point. It seems everything is commercialised these days, from the recommendations of social influencers through to product placement in films, financial gain and profit-seeking behaviour and decision-making is part of everyday modern life. And commercialization, and consumerism, has had an undeniable impact on the planet. A study conducted by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that a truckload of textiles is wasted every second. The World Bank expects the fashion industry’s carbon emissions to rise 50% by 2030 if fashion consumption continues at current levels. And since 63% of textile fibres are currently derived from petrochemicals (releasing microfibres into our waterways), the plastic pollution problem is expected to worsen.
But while shoppers can choose to boycott Black Friday and save dollars by doing so; a business choosing to boycott comes at a financial cost, made worse by the pandemic.
Responding to EWP’s Instagram post, Casey Dworkin, founder of sustainable luxury footwear label Sylven New York shares how tough the year has been and how she plans to proceed; “In the past I have done both a small percentage off of my sustainable shoe collections and a portion of proceeds being donated to a specific charitable organization.
‘This year I plan to do another charitable give back campaign and am still debating on whether or not I need to offer a percentage off to stay competitive. It’s been unsurprisingly an extremely tough year for us, and we want to do everything we can to support our customers, but we also need their support now more than ever.”
Danielle Butler, founder of Whollygrail, an Australian sustainable lifestyle marketplace, respects whatever decision a conscious business owner makes. “I respect each business’s right to choose. It is commercialisation- as with many other things, like free shipping, etc. however, we are sustainable businesses competing in an unsustainable system, so we need to make ourselves accessible to consumers, otherwise no-one wins and the system stays the same. I like to call it a Green Friday.”
Whether a conscious business owner or shopper chooses to partake in Black Friday –or Green Friday– this year, it’s clear that COVID-19 has eroded the self-righteousness and ethical elitism rearing its head in years gone by, and has brought on greater empathy and understanding within the community.
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Cover image via Citizen Wolf.