4 Tips for an Ethical and Eco-friendly Black Friday
Black Friday, for many, marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Whether you’re buying gifts or just want a new appliance, these sales offer people an opportunity to buy at a discount the small and large items that they’ve had an eye on all year.
Retailers send notifications and email newsletters about their Black Friday sale weeks in advance, and some stores even have pre-Black Friday sales to kick off the shopping spirit in early November. However, the appeal of saving some money should not outweigh making ethical and sustainable purchases. It can be very easy to be enticed by fast fashion brands, and to buy items just because they’re on sale despite knowing that they won’t be used.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Black Friday can be a chance to get what you need and maybe help someone else, all without costing you or our planet too much. Here are some tips to help this year.
1. Make a list and check it twice
Before checking out the sales, whether in-store or online, it’s a good idea to make a list of items that you’d like to get. This could include what you actually need (ie household essentials), what you’ve had your eye on for while, what friends and family may want as gifts, and what you would like. Remember to think beyond just the holiday season if there are birthdays or celebrations coming up after the new year.
After writing your list, have a look and see if there is anything that you could get second-hand and could be removed from your ‘Black Friday’ list. There are a lot of options online for buying second hand furniture that is in good condition, and shopping locally can help to reduce the demand for new labour, materials and shipping emissions.
Once you have your list sorted, there is less chance of being swayed by a sale and making an impulse purchase. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself or someone else in the moment, but the point of the list is to avoid buying items that won’t get used and will end up being thrown away.
2. Go for quality
Take advantage of the sale and try to buy the best that you can afford, particularly for large items and appliances like washing machines, mattresses and fridges. Buying better quality typically means that the product will last longer, and will not have to be replaced as often therefore putting less pressure on landfills. Making a list before you go shopping (see tip 1) is also a great time to do your research into which brands or models may be the best for what you’re looking for.
Putting quality over quantity is also a good rule for clothing items. The fast fashion industry is having a devastating impact on our planet. Many companies have poor working conditions for their labourers, and by investing in quality clothing rather than buying cheap clothes that are not made to last we can help to not support an industry that exploits people and the planet.
3. Put your money where it can go the extra mile
Shop with brands that are donating some of their sales towards a cause you believe in. Many brands have a larger cause that they support, whether they have a ‘one-for-one’ giving model where they donate one item for each one purchased, or donate part of their profits to charities and NGOs, try to shop at a brand where your money can do some more good.
Buying from local, family-owned and small businesses, especially now when so many businesses have struggled to stay open, is also a great way of ensuring that your money will help to support people who need it. If you enjoy buying in bulk, why not call up a local shelter, food pantry or charity to ask what items they may need over the holidays and purchase those items to donate. Black Friday can provide a great opportunity to give to others in need without breaking the bank.
4. Shop at ethical and sustainable brands
Finally, shop with brands that have good ethical and sustainable practices. Take a couple of minutes to check that they pay their workers fairly and provide good working conditions, or that they use sustainable resources and methods to manufacture their products. Their items may cost a bit more, but the sale may help to make them more affordable, and buying something that isn’t harmful to the planet is priceless.
Black Friday doesn’t have to be a time of impulse, overspending and overindulgence. There are a lot of ways we can shop mindfully and also support some good causes along the way.