Black Friday, the day of the year where our capitalist society generates hyper-consumerism at its best. Often regarded as the antithesis of sustainable living for many, Black Friday has gained notoriety for its jaw-dropping promotions and sales in the retail industry. According to the World Bank, we now consume 80 billion pieces of clothing each year globally, and as we easily acquire a new piece of clothing, we just as easily discard it. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping together. Needless to say, our throw-away fashion culture comes with detrimental environmental, societal, and human cost.
Black Friday, is known for often causing mass stampedes, fights, or online queues that tend to make for funny memes and viral videos. Nonetheless, it portrays the reality of hyper-consumerism in our society and actually, exposes corporations ‘real’ sustainability efforts. Nonetheless, with the recent climate change protests and environmental awareness being spread, popular opinion on the event is starting to change. Not only in terms of customers but also in regard to corporations, with many deciding not to partake in the sales. This collective, conscious, and responsible effort in reducing our carbon footprint in the fashion industry is one of the first steps necessary to increase awareness of ethical consumption.
A prime example of a company that uses Black Friday for good is Patagonia. They created an ad in 2011 that read “Don’t Buy This Jacket” as well as in 2016, it donated 100% of proceeds from its global retail and online Black Friday sales to nonprofits working to protect our environment.
Then, what are some ways to be sustainable during this Black Friday?
- You can support local and ethical businesses.
- You can merely buy less and smarter, better pieces that you will not discard with facility.
- You can choose not to partake in Black Friday at all, and choose new ways to have new clothing by renting, borrowing, and/or thrifting!
The main issue at hand is the urgent need for the fast-fashion industry to reinvent itself, as its current operating model is exacerbating climate change. Now, fashion retailers no longer create collections based on seasons rather on replacing clothing inventories more frequently by increasing the pace of design and production, some creating up to 20 collections a year such as Zara. Nonetheless, this hyper consumer behavior does not only take place on Black Friday, after Black Friday comes Cyber Monday, and subsequently, come the holiday sales. This behavior continues to be encouraged by big companies, and the need to spend becomes ceaseless. Unless consumers push to change this behavior and demand decreases, supply is bound to be affected. Partaking in boycotting corporations such as Amazon and participating in other movements such as the surge of Green Friday. So I implore to ask yourselves, are you willing to let the earth pay the hefty cost?
- Marcario, Rose. “Record-Breaking Black Friday Sales to Benefit the Planet.” Patagonia Outdoor Clothing & Gear, 10 Feb. 2020, www.patagonia.com
- “How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost to the Environment?” World Bank, www.worldbank.org