On Friday 24 November, the world will once again fall under the Black Friday spell! Originally an American phenomenon, Black Friday has now spread its tendrils across the globe. I want to help you avoid the hype and embrace ethical consumerism.
Hailed as the biggest shopping event of the year, an astounding 101.7 million Americans hit the shops the day after Thanksgiving last year in a desperate hunt for ‘bargains’. The day has become a clarion call to kick off the Christmas shopping season. It’s estimated that in 2017, American shoppers alone will spend USD$682.0 billion on the day. The name Black Friday carries with it many negative associations, such as crowds of frenzied shoppers pushing, shoving and injuring each other to grab more stuff they don’t actually need.
It’s especially disheartening when you consider that a large proportion of new clothing purchased around the world soon makes its way to landfill. In the US the EPA has estimated that shoppers throw away at least 13 million tons of clothes each year. And Canada produces enough textile waste in a single year to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto’s Rogers Centre stadium. In fact, consumers in North America are purchasing (and wasting) fives times as much clothing as they did 25 years ago! In the UK, roughly 2 million tonnes of clothing and textiles are thrown away every year and only 16% of that waste is ever reused.
In the last few years, Black Friday and it’s online cousin Cyber Monday have been embraced by countries in both hemispheres. While Aussies are probably still more familiar with the Boxing Day sales, the last five years have seen Australian retailers embrace Black Friday in both brick-and-mortar stores and online.
It’s so easy, and so human, to feel some major FOMO when you’re surrounded by messages claiming that you need to take advantage of these amazing deals on items that will make your life better. Give yourself the gift of taking a moment to shift from unconscious to conscious consumer. Before you reach for your wallet, ask yourself these three questions: How much will I wear it? How much do I already own? How long will it last?
After careful consideration, you may find that you don’t really need any new stuff after all. Perhaps you’d prefer to be more creative and embrace some haulternatives? If you do still want to buy new, empower yourself to make ethical choices. Resisting the impulse to buy loads of cheap items in favour of investing in quality pieces not only makes your look more streamlined, it also reduces the amount you consume and spend overall.
“Even a gorgeously tailored black dress isn’t worth much to you if you already have 10 just like it. A $15 t-shirt is no bargain if it’s worn out after a few washes. And those jeans on sale aren’t worth $40 if you’ll wear them just twice before consigning them to the back of your closet” – Marc Bain
Make sure to choose something from a brand with a positive social or environmental impact. You can use the free Good On You app to check the labour, environment and animal ratings for over 1,000 fashion brands. You can also find exclusive offers on ethical brands all year round in the Good On You app.