Black Friday hasn’t even arrived yet, but for weeks there has been a steady stream of discount codes flooding our inboxes and Instagram feeds, in the lead up to this, the most notorious of sales.
It’s name sparks images of panic-induced chaos, from queues waiting for hours outside stores, to mayhem as people charge in crowds to get their hands on the best offers, to all out brawling over heavily discounted items. The negative reputation for this day is encapsulated in one macabre record on the website, Black Friday Death Count, a tragic log so alarming that the discounts cannot be worth it. Throughout November, edits of anticipated deals or sneak previews of items to bookmark are shared so we’re ready for the moment the prices plummet. Brands are starting earlier and earlier by offering teaser reductions throughout the month in the run up to the event, fuelling this impulsive, excessive consumption. According to PWC, Black Friday has now become Black November, with US consumers projected to spend 3% more over the festive months in comparison to last year, whether online or in store we will be seeing more staggering sales numbers in the aftermath.
*A still from USA Today footage of Black Friday shoppers rushing to purchase on-sale items.
While it can be argued fairly Black Friday provides an opportunity for some to purchase items they might need and otherwise not be able to afford, without these deals, on the whole it exists to encourage us to spend as much and as quickly as possible. This urgency of a ticking countdown declaring seemingly bottomless reductions as a one-time offer drives us to hasty purchases and escape any risk of FOMO. The Ellen MacArther Foundation reported that every second a truckload of textiles is either incinerated or sent to landfill. WRAP in the UK shared estimates that there are £30 billion of unworn clothing sitting in peoples wardrobes. That’s a lot of stuff for us to ‘Marie Kondo’ our way through. The destructive knock-on effect to the planet doesn’t stop there. This push to spend also results in an eye-watering number of returns. In the US UPS estimates 1 million packages will be returned every day in December. While research from Optoro suggests 5 billion lbs of US returns are also sent to landfill, emitting 15 million tons of CO2 in the process. This is a hefty environmental price tag for our sale shopping appetite, not one we can afford to pay, considering it is just over twelve months since scientists alerted us that time was limited to curb the effects of climate change. This destructive impact on our world, coupled with the human cost of a discounted item, whether in unfair wages or poor working conditions, makes the race to the lowest price impossible for ethical brands to compete while protecting their ethos.
*Stella McCartney Winter 2017 campaign.
Now is the time to rethink the fashion system, join in with Global Fashion Exchange and Eco-age’s #takebackblackfriday, a campaign with the ambition to enhance awareness and educate consumers about the negative impact of Black Friday and inspire people with the alternatives. You can also check out our previous post here on the hidden costs of sales to learn more. Or, if you’re shopping this week look for brands refusing to compromise on their ethics and challenging the norm on Black Friday. Whether supporting those rejecting the pressure to discount, like Veja, the footwear label who reaffirmed on twitter their choice to not participate in Black Friday, or one using it as an opportunity to give back like O My Bag, the accessory brand. They’re set to continue with their Black Friday Fund, an initiative where 100% of the sales from discounted items will be donated to funding schools in India.
This year at thegreenlabels we’re also doing it differently. We think to minimise the impact on our planet and protecting the people who make our clothes are the most important things. Keep an eye on our social media to stay tuned!
Written by Lynne Grey