Annual November saving events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner. We are wondering if these two events can ever be sustainable.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come around again – the annual sales events where retailers, both online and offline, offer huge ‘savings’, tempting shoppers to get the best deals on items. But does anyone knows the origin of Black Friday ?
Origin of Black Friday
While Black Friday is now an integral part of many Thanksgiving celebrations, but this holiday tradition has darker roots than you might imagine. On September 24, 1869, two Wall Street financiers had a plan to drive the prices of gold sky-high by buying up all of the nation’s gold. The result ended with a total stock market free-fall, with stocks plummeting over 20%, and farmers suffering as a result of a 50% crash in corn and wheat value. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.
From Financial Crash to Throwaway Culture
Back in 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term “Black Friday” to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year.
Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit.
From mass Consumption t0 Conscious Black Friday
There is nothing wrong in buying things. We live in a society where we actually must buy our food, clothing, and shelter. It is also not possible for everyone to simply boycott all purchases. There are, however, ways to be more conscious and mindful of the societal and environmental impact our shopping may have and still partake in the economy.
However, during these shopping frenzy, 3-day long shopping binge – from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, often than ever, we buy things we don’t really need just because they seems to be “cheaper”.
“Today we don’t buy what we need – we buy because we are tempted. We are not in a good relationship with consumption any more”
Conscious Black Friday – Where to Start
With the ‘official’ start of the holiday shopping season fast approaching, how might you approach the gift season differently ?
1. Ask yourself – Do you really need this ?
Navigating the conscious consumption waters can be a little tricky. From sweet deals to perceived savings and free gifts, all these can make it easier for us to fall into the trap of consumerism.
When deal-shopping, ask yourself about the creation and use of the products offer in social, cultural, and environmental values. By the end of the day, whenever we buy something, we pollute because of the carbon emissions that come from making the product, from using it, and then getting rid of that product !
2. Shop smart
Conscious and mindful consumption have ever-expanding ranges and forms, including shop locally, Thrifting, swaps and customising orders and DIY items. Educate yourself with various ethical and sustainable certifications on products.
3. Give the Gift of Value
It might be that the most sustainable gift one can give is simply time and attention. How about transfer this into your gift giving ? Maybe treating yourself to a nice dinner or catching up with a friend you’ve not seen for a while might be time better spent.
If there is something you’ve had your eye on for ages that will be heavily discounted this week, by all means, go for it. Otherwise, take a leaf out of all those decluttering books and do something more worthwhile instead.
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