The Mindful Materialist
Say No to Black Friday
You might have noticed some ads popping up in your feed for the upcoming Black Friday sales. This American phenomenon, much like Halloween, has taken over global retail markets and is now an annual shopping event. It started in the US on the Friday after each Thanksgiving Day and marks the unofficial start of the holiday season. It has since become synonymous with footage of bargain hunters lining up in the early hours of the morning, wrestling in department stores, fighting over bargain bins and collectively spending billions of dollars – somewhat ironic behaviour to follow a holiday about being thankful, don’t you think?
Every year, Black Friday sales essentially encourage us to spend our money on *cheap shit we don’t need*, but again and again, people fall for it. What they don’t tell you though, is that these sales aren’t for you, they’re for the brands. The sales are necessary for brands to sell off excess stock due to overproduction. But people continue to buy into the craze.
Jennifer Nini from Eco Warrior Princess points out the complexities of our shopping behaviour:
“The psychology of discount sales is complex and individuals experience a raft of emotions; from feeling good about ‘saving’ money and perceiving the discounted item more valuable as a result, right through to the irrational fear of missing out which encourages impulse shopping.”
What we often forget (and what the advertising campaigns encourage us to forget) is that real saving only comes from keeping our money in the bank and not shopping in the first place. If you’re going out on Black Friday and spending hundreds of dollars on discounted items that you probably wouldn’t have bought if the sales weren’t on, I don’t think you can reasonably claim to be ‘saving’.
This year in particular, the lockdowns and the pandemic have taught me a lot about what I need vs what I want. My 2020 shopping ban has also given me the opportunity to work with what I already have and stay away from impulse shopping. Needless to say, I will be boycotting Black Friday this year, not only for my shopping ban but also for my values as a mindful materialist. But if you’ve got a shopping list and plan on getting some bargains on the day, below are some questions to ask yourself before handing your money over.
Black Friday Alternatives
I'll be the first to admit that shopping can be fun. Handing over your hard-earned money and receiving in exchange a brand new item that your can feel great in has its perks. But I've discovered other ways to get that same rush that won't cause harm to your wallet and the planet, while still saying no to Black Friday.
Citizen Wolf Black Fridye - they'll dye your t-shirt for you so you get that same 'new clothes feeling' without actually adding to your wardrobe.
Do a clothes swap with a friend
Donate to Clean Clothes Campaign or other charities supporting garment workers
Reorganise your wardrobe and do a declutter
If you gotta shop, go for second hand
Ask brands to #payup and #payyourworkers
Ask #whomademyclothes and #whatsinmyclothes
Follow @cleanclothescampaign, @fash_rev and @fashion_act_now
Watch a documentary (see recommendations here)