An Ethical Guide to Tackling Black Friday & Cyber Monday

At any other time of the year, it’s easy to preach sustainability and anti-black Friday mindsets because of the holiday’s celebration of overconsumption. However, as Thanksgiving break rolls in and you see everyone around you doing clothing hauls and stores flaunting 50% off sales, it becomes hard to resist the temptation to go out and shop; especially when you give yourself the excuse that it’s for the holidays and you’re gift shopping. 

As companies slash prices for the kickoff of the holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, shoppers overconsume electronics, plastics and fast-fashion apparel — and our planet ultimately pays the price. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 164 million people plan to go shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday this year (“Tips For Conscious Consumerism”). Along with this, on a personal basis,  Americans are expected to spend an average of $837 on gifts this holiday season (“5 Ways to Shop”).  

As a high schooler, I can confidently say that I understand the external pressures as well as anyone. I can also say I have emerged strong (following Black Friday) buying nothing. So, take my word, and here’s a guide on how to deal with Black Friday more sustainably!

  1. Don’t buy anything!

Of course, this is easier said than done, and the most obvious solution- but consider it. If you find yourself in a position where you have no wishlist, no research or any necessities during Black Friday, then there really is no reason to shop. While most people do wait for this time of the year to splurge the most, if you aren’t in that group, then the most logical reason is to keep your distance. 

  1. Make a wishlist before you go

Make a list of goods you’ve been intending to buy all year before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Include any items you want to buy as gifts for others. First you make a list of necessities; things you need to replace, something you’ve been saving up for, etc. Then you make a second list of things you want. These should be items you have given some thought to, but aren’t vital. If you can see yourself using these items on multiple occasions and if you find a good deal on them, then it’s a good buy. If you see yourself falling into the trap of purchasing just because something is on sale and you’ve never actually thought about it- you catch yourself. That is why the wish list is helpful; by going in with an idea of what you’ll come out with, you avoid unnecessary purchases. 

(I actually do this one every time I go shopping!)

  1. Purchase essentials first

You definitely have a few favorite goods that you use on a regular basis, and some of them are probably more expensive than you’d like. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are excellent opportunities to stock up on home essentials.

  1. Combine shipments 

Instead of ordering per individual, plan ahead and order as much as you can all at once. Then, rather than  20 individual boxes and shipments, you can buy for the entire family in one transaction, one shipment, and one payment. This will greatly reduce your carbon footprint outside of over-purchasing.

  1. Stay mindful, participate in Giving Tuesday!

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday is a heartening development in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday mayhem — and a way you can take action as an individual. This global movement across more than 150 countries encourages charitable donations and community action, and it serves as a good reminder to get involved in causes you care about. This Giving Tuesday, consider volunteering to clean up trash in your local park, starting a fundraiser, or offering your professional services for free to a short-staffed nonprofit organization or mutual aid in your area. You can also simply donate money to your favorite charity or organization, like Oceana! (“Tips For Conscious Consumerism”)

In addition to all of these, if you do end up shopping, go for more sustainable brands: 

Check out my blog post with brand specifics: Best Affordable + Sustainable Fashion Brands

Have a happy Cyber Monday and stay sustainable! 

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