If your inbox or social media feed looks anything like mine, you’ll be well aware that Black Friday is here. The US holiday designed to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping period after Thanksgiving has spread across the world. And with it comes countless amounts of bargains and deals to shop.
It’s not difficult to get caught up in the hyper-consumerism of Black Friday. Brands advertising their ‘BEST DEALS YET’ are appearing in our emails, on our Instagram feeds, through our favourite Youtubers, and in every shop window we walk past. It’s hard to avoid, and it’s hard to decline.
Consumerism can have a damaging effect on our relationship with God, on people and on the planet. As it relies on the belief that we can be fulfilled and satisfied by material items, it can lead us to believe God alone cannot fully sustain us. Furthermore it encourages a culture where we place our identity in what we own, rather than in who God says we are. As Cleo’s recent article highlights, unethical and unsustainable practises are prevalent within supply chains. The people making the goods we buy are often mistreated and underpaid. Alarming amounts of clothes and other goods are ending up in landfill each year and mass productions has led to us using up the earth’s finite resources at a worrying rate.
Consumerism and overconsumption are huge issues, but when brands make their deals sound so appealing, it can be hard to say no. So how do we avoid getting sucked into the hype around Black Friday this year?
As I learn more about the horrific injustices within the supply chains of everyday products, the effect brands are having on the climate, and the dangers of consumerism, I become less inclined to buy from these brands regardless of how good the sale is. There are so many great resources out there – International Justice Mission tell of the heart-breaking realities of modern day slavery; Fashion Revolution speak against the culture of exploitation and disposability in the fashion industry, and are currently running a Black Friday campaign; and of course the We Are Tearfund magazine has so much information as a starting place!
Unsubscribe and actively avoid
Ignoring these deals can be challenging, so removing extra temptation can be so worthwhile. Go through your inbox and remove yourself from mailing lists, avoid browsing websites out of curiosity, and try not to pop into the shops to see what’s on offer! If particularly tempting adverts continue appearing on your social media, there’s an option to block that advert as well. It may sound severe, but I have found that removing as much temptation as I can, has been so helpful for my journey as a consumer.
If you are planning on utilising the sales to get some Christmas presents, it may be worth making a list of exactly what you want to purchase and where you want to buy from, to avoid being distracted or sucked in by good marketing.
Find alternative solutions
If the thought of gaining some new items at this time is really exciting, there are few ways around it. You could plan a ‘Black Friday’ clothes swap with some friends, seek out some small businesses and independent sellers to see what they may be offering, or hit up some charity shops and second-hand options instead.
As consumers, we can be both encouraged and challenged that we hold power in this situation. The system is broken, but this Black Friday we can choose our own level of participation in the system. Shopping and buying sustainably may not be an accessible option for all yet, but we can all make efforts to reduce the amount we buy and become more conscious consumers.