Are you an ethical or conscious consumer? Does Black Friday make you angry? Fill you with horror? Or are you guilty and confused? I think, I’m all of the above. I wrote about Black Friday last year. It was quite an anger filled post. Guilt-laden too. This year, I’m a bit more relaxed about it. I’m trying to look on the bright side.
This year, I think I’ve got the answer to a Guilt-Free Black Friday. If you’ve got stuff to buy and that stuff happens to be on sale, buy it. But make sure that you only buy what you need. You heard it here first. Just be super sensible and don’t get caught up in the hype. Easy.
In other words: Be Wise.
Ethical brands have reacted to Black Friday very differently this year. Veja are declaring tomorrow as just Friday. Black Friday is dead to them. People Tree, Bibico, Unoa and most clean beauty brands are participating with voucher codes or promoting Fair Friday. Producers will not be squeezed and in some cases extra donations will be made to charities. See, it’s not a cut and dried affair. Your Black Friday purchase could make a real difference. This is why I champion ethical over high street, every time. Ethical brands are usually thinking about more than just their bottom line. They’re often thinking about how to do business more fairly and how to make the world a better place. I’m not going to berate them for joining in with Black Friday to compete with the bigger, profit-hungry brands. I’m not boycotting this year.
The Problem With Black Friday
It’s the frenzy of Black Friday and the temptation to buy things you don’t need that’s the big problem. You know if you need a new TV. If you don’t need a new TV, don’t buy it because it’s a bargain. The same goes for everything else. Do you need another Christmas jumper, box of baubles, personalised tub of Nutella? I doubt it. And no-one needs a light up snowman on a USB stick. No-one. Or unicorn poo for that matter.
An Ethical Christmas
Let’s put Black Friday to one side for the moment and think about better Christmas gifts all-round.
First up, are you looking to ethical and small shops for gifts this year? I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Know The Origin’s Brighton Pop-Up today. If you’re able to check it out, I’d highly recommend a visit (they’re on Duke’s Lane until 1st December). There are loads of gorgeous gifts and clothes inside. I’ve treated our house to gorgeous Lux Luz scented candles (soy wax, £15 each with proceeds going to women affected by domestic violence) and I treated myself to a Birdsong T-shirt. I’m not buying any Christmas themed clothes this year. This is the closest I’ll be getting.
As for other ethical Christmas gift buying options: how about local craft fairs or Etsy Made Local events nearby? Have you checked out your local Oxfam for second hand or fair trade gifts? Are you avoiding Amazon? Have you considered experiences for your loved ones? Or giving them your time or something you’ve made yourself instead of a shop bought gift? How about volunteering, or charity donations, or getting involved with your local community this year rather than just shopping?
There are so many different ways to do lovely, joyous, heartfelt things for Christmas. It’s not all about Big Gifts. Or Big Days Out. Spending lots of money. Or panic buying something destined for landfill by 1st January 2019.
Back to Guilt-Free Black Friday.
If there’s something you’ve got your eye on – gift or otherwise – and it’s in the sale, take advantage of the money off. Hooray for your purse. Enjoy your bargain. No guilt to feel here.
But if you’re out and about and find yourself lured by a cheap novelty that you know you don’t need —> Don’t Buy It. If you find the perfect novelty gift for a loved one — think — will they really want or need it beyond Boxing Day? Honestly? If not —> Don’t Buy It. Can you afford it? Yes? —> Great! Put it in your reusable bag and cherish. No? —-> Don’t buy it. You don’t need it. Your loved ones don’t want you in debt to please them. Find another way of gifting them something. Or just love them hard. Not being able to afford a present doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure. It makes you a brave and responsible person. Your family and friends love you.
It’s not easy being green. It’s not easy knowing what the best thing to do is. Boycott is simple but life isn’t. Maybe 20% off the toy that you child has asked Santa for brings it into your budget; maybe a deal on a new appliance means that you don’t have to worry about finding the money for it right now; maybe you’ll donate the difference in the cost of something on Black Friday to charity. Maybe you’ll choose to try ethical for the first time because there’s a great deal to be had.
It sounds like a cop out but the best thing we can all do is to make small and meaningful steps to being more ethical together. Why not stop focussing on boycotts and negativity and more on what you can do for a more ethical Christmas or lifestyle overall? There’s no point getting angry at something you don’t have to join in with. Black Friday is ugly, but it’s here and it’s not going anywhere. How about setting a new example. Set the example of being kind and wise and optimistic. It’s much more inspiring than getting angry and feeling eaten up by guilt. I feel happier for it. And more optimistic too.
This year I’ve set myself some Christmas Goals, I’d like to share them with you now. Maybe it will inspire you to think about what you can do to have a more sustainable Christmas.
- Spend more time with loved ones and be extra thoughtful.
- Buy less crap.
- Make more.
- Wrap responsibly.
- Eat sustainably.
- Don’t rely on Amazon.
As you’ll see, I haven’t ruled out Black Friday this year. And I won’t be boycotting January Sales either. I just won’t be buying stuff I don’t need. And that right there is the key. Just buy the stuff you need (although you probably need less than you think. But that’s a discussion for another day 😉)