It’s almost that time of year again, your favourite and some not so favourite stores and brands will be dropping their prices for a few hours to entice you to spend your hard earned cash.
What is it?
Originating in the US, Black Friday is a colloquial term for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. This Friday also marks the official start of the Christmas shopping season with many retailers offering highly promoted sales to entice customers in.
The concept of Black Friday has been around since 1961 and since 2005 it has become the busiest shopping day of the year, year on year. If you’re wondering why it's black, this term came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season and it stuck.
In the last 10 to 15 years there have been attempts by US-based retailers to introduce a retail "Black Friday" to other countries around the world and it has now become a common yearly occurrence here in Ireland.
Black Friday sees retailers pulling out all the stops to woo customers to their stores with some retailers starting their “Black Friday” promotions and sales as much as two weeks before the actual day which has now turned into Cyber Week.
While Cyber Week and Black Friday gives us consumers a chance to purchase items we need at discounted rates, they have received a lot of backlash over the last few years as they encourage overspending and impulse buying. With the frenzied nature of time sensitive discounts we focus on quantity rather than quality, often buying items we don’t even need.
Black Friday is often a day when we go out and buy things we don’t really need and give them to people who don’t really want them. Consider giving to our home planet in the name of someone you love - Rose Marcario, CEO, Patagonia
Is it such a bad thing?
According to the website money.co.uk, in 2020 British Black Friday home deliveries were set to churn out 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of 435 return flights from London to New York (or, apparently, 2,860 blue whales, they’re the really big ones). To put it in context, in 2020 Ireland produced 32.8 million metric tons, that equates to 76 Black Friday home delivery days!
This also brings about the debate of shopping in person or online and delivery and which method will produce the greatest emissions? Researchers in the UK highlight that this is a very complex issue but that in general purchasing online and collecting in-store created fewer emissions than traditional or old school shopping.
What can you do when it comes to consumption and reducing it?
The first thing to remember is to pause before your purchase, do you really need that item? If shopping online, place the items in your basket and walk away, give it a few hours or wait until the next day. You’ll be amazed at how often you’ll change your mind.
There are of course times when you need to purchase items and the best advice we can give here is to invest in quality items be that clothing or pots and pans and you’ll need less of them. Buying good quality items will mean that they last longer, something like a cast iron skillet is a once in a lifetime purchase, several lifetimes in fact when it's cared for. Investing in good quality clothing will also encourage you to take care of it and if you get tired of an item, rather than it sitting in a wardrobe you can sell it on or donate it to a charity shop to ensure it gets maximum use.
Buying less is better than buying “green”
A journal article published by Young Consumers found that our overconsumption of resources, from the food and clothes we buy to the methods of transportation we choose, is a leading contributor to global climate change. Therefore, it's important to understand the choices we make and how those decisions affect the health of a planet with limited resources.
It has been seen time and time again that reduced consumption has effects on increased well-being and decreased psychological distress. A list of the ten major benefits has been compiled:
In a world where we all have so much going on, who wouldn’t want these benefits in their life?
Black Friday deals may satiate momentary desire, but their impact on the planet is a lot more long-lasting - All Birds
When you do want to buy, if you haven't done so before, consider the greener option be this buying second hand, upcycling or repairing, there are plenty of options out there.
There are alternative options
Learn some new skills to help you make your things last long. We’ve got lots of video tutorials and workshops on our YouTube channel
There are lots of items where you will need to get a professional especially when it comes to anything electrical. You can find services locally on repairmystuff.ie and if you’re a business who wants to get added to site be sure to make contact with them.
Another great resource is the Community Resource Network, crni.ie
If you are doing some home improvements or want to freshen things up, consider buying second and try to pass on or sell items you don’t want or need anymore rather than disposing of them. There are some websites where you can list items either at a cost or for free and get the buyer to collect it.
The old adage “ones man’s trash is another man’s treasure” will always be true so go online and take a look you never know what you’ll find, here are just a few to get you started:
Are you aware that fashion is a major contributor to climate change?
By making some small changes we can have big impacts, WRAP UK estimates that we can reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint of our clothes by up to 30% for every nine additional months we keep wearing them.
We have highlighted some of the more popular sites below and remember you can buy and sell on most sites so take a look in your wardrobe and why not sell on items you haven't worn for a while but that are in perfect condition.
Buy more, watch more, listen more, use more, eat more — more, more, more.
Our lives are crazy and busy because we feel obligated (or it feels natural) to constantly consume entertainment, information and things.
Advertisers and companies know humans are extremely curious creatures who get distracted easily by shiny new things — this is why we devour new content on Netflix and are addicted to checking our phones for the latest Instagram or Snapchat notification and they take advantage of this.
We need to allow ourselves to slow down, look at the bigger picture and make decisions about our consumption which don’t have such a negative effect on the planet. We have the power to drive change by the choices we make.
It starts with feeling content. You most likely already have everything you need. Be deliberate in choosing what you consume.
Author - Declan Breen
14 Feb 2023
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