Discounting Our Planet

The darkest time for retail is upon us and people are fired up to start the excessive shopping extravaganza that graces the world each year. This spectacular event, known as Black Friday, was brought to the UK by none other than Amazon (thank you, Jeff), 10 years ago, and people are eagerly anticipating the whopping price deductions to buy things they don’t know they want yet. Inevitably, as with most human festivities, the environment will fall victim to the hands of materialism.

This year, Black Friday presents itself rather differently. Amidst a lockdown, people are prevented from physically queuing for their much wanted discounts, and it will be the speed of wifi, not the speed of the queue that impacts purchasing. The lockdown is not slowing the spend though, with sales up 61% in the first week of November compared with the same period of time last year. Following these online sales, comes the environmental cost, with more vans, more returns, more packaging, and inevitably, CO2 emissions; a domino effect piloted by our growing appetite for convenience and avarice.

“THE LOCKDOWN IS NOT SLOWING THE SPEND THOUGH, WITH SALES UP 61% IN THE FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER COMPARED WITH THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME LAST YEAR.” 

The problem with Black Friday is that people buy for greed over need. Ironically, in the US, Black Friday is the Friday which follows ThanksGiving, so people are thankful for what they have, then decide it’s not enough. Well, ‘lucky’ for us and them, Black Friday is no longer restricted to a 24 hour period, and we are given weeks or even months to buy those unnecessary purchases we had no previous desire of buying. With Amazon and Boots on the front line, slashing prices as early as October, we witness another day snatched up and exploited by large companies hoping to reap the benefits of pointless consuming. The sad truth behind the items bought over the Black Friday period though, is that 80% of them end up in landfill, incineration or (at best) left to low quality recycling after a small period of time, (Green Alliance, 2019).

“THE SAD TRUTH BEHIND THE ITEMS BOUGHT OVER THE BLACK FRIDAY PERIOD THOUGH, IS THAT 80% OF THEM END UP IN LANDFILL, INCINERATION OR (AT BEST) LEFT TO LOW QUALITY RECYCLING AFTER A SMALL PERIOD OF TIME, (GREEN ALLIANCE, 2019).”

The war against consumerism is not lost though, with some companies and organisations championing sustainability over our materialistic urges. Environmental activists, tired of our throwaway culture, are promoting people to support anti-consumerism, to change the distopican phenomenon, and escape the shopocalypse. In 1992, a movement began fighting against consumerism over this time, people were encouraged to boycott the weekend's urge to splurge. ‘Buy Nothing Day’ was started by Ted Dave, a Canadian activist who wanted people to take a holiday from spending and to take a 24 hour detox from consuming - if only now it was as simple as 24 hours. The mission of the movement is still relevant though; rather than joining the frenzy, the easiest possible way to help the environment, is to do nothing at all.

Buy Nothing Day has now been expanded to Green Friday, which emphasises the ecological perspective.“The Green Friday movement is all about giving, investing in the things that really matter and make life more fulfilling, worthwhile and even beautiful,” (Green Friday, 2020). The movement pushes towards spending time in nature, enjoying the company of family and friends, getting active, practising mindfulness or supporting a local charity. The altruistic ethos encouraged with this movement is promoting a new cultural wave to appreciate the world around us and the people living in it, rather than the materialistic goods that destroy it. 

There are also companies that are challenging the motives of Black Friday. Patagonia is one of them and does not participate in the period of mass shopping. Aligned with ethical consumerism in 2016, they previously donated 100% of sales from the season to grassroots environmental organisations. Patagonia’s emphasis on preventing unnecessary harm allows there to be an alliance between business and the environment. They are driven to inspire and prioritise minimum impact, and with this, pave the way for corporate responsibility and conscientious consumption. This year they are not taking part in the sales, but instead from November 29th they will match any donations made to one of the environmental groups supported through Patagonia Action Works. In addition to this, they annually give 1% of their revenue to grassroots organisations, ‘1% for the Planet,’, which has amounted to $100 million since 1985, showing true commitment to the natural world.

When you think about Black Friday, every aspect of it promotes waste and CO2 emissions. With awareness of climate change, and the essential re-evaluation of human behaviour in the spotlight, surely a large scale shopping period, driven by deals, materialism, greed and spending is unnecessary when we know what the consequences are? We know we are harming the planet and we know that the planet does not profit from our actions. So, this year and the years that follow, we need to fight the upcoming marketing tactics, the eye catching emails, the advertisements and the commercials that invade our screens. We are at a crucial point in history for climate change, so instead of harming nature from behind a desktop, protect it and support Green Friday; what’s the point of a new jumper, when there will be no world to wear it in?

Ethical choices for Black Friday

 

By contributing writer Scarlett Buckley

 


more stories

What's On: This September

A roundup of events to attend in/around London in the month of September that have sustainability and climate at the forefront.      Eternally Yo...

The SBT Astrology Club: September Edition

 This Series is brought to you by Skydiamond. Made From The Sky To Protect The Earth. Welcome to The SBT Astrology Club. A new series where each m...

Meet The Company Making Diamonds From Carbon In The Sky

Skydiamond is the creation of entrepreneur and environmentalist Dale Vince. In this interview, we speak to Dale about Skydiamond, what the proces...

Step Sustainably In Los Angeles

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH STEP YOUR WORLD Touching down in sunny and vibrant Los Angeles, our second destination of the series #STEPSUSTAINABLY created...

The Best Vegan Ice Cream Spots In London

In a nod to the upcoming World Ice Cream Day, we wanted to pay homage to that soft, cold delicious thing that is ice cream, but in our own Stories ...

A Guide To Social Wellness

Social wellness is the act of developing and maintaining positive interactions with others in local and global communities. We often hear the term ...

How To Go Green This Festival Season

Festivals; a weekend of live music, joy and dancing in a field with thousands of people! However there is no escaping the fact that festivals can h...

Step Sustainably In Barcelona

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH STEP YOUR WORLD Touching down in Barcelona, our first destination of the series #STEPSUSTAINABLY a partnership with Step You...

The Second Hand Wedding Dress Trend Is Here To Stay

Weddings are such an incredible event for everyone involved but often we don’t realise, or see, the waste that they create. In one day, a wedding ...

Making Trash Hard To Ignore, One Day At A Time

Rob Greenfield is an adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and human making a positive difference in the world. He is dedicated to leadi...

Why We [Still] Have A Clothing Waste Problem

Let’s be honest – some of us are addicted to accumulating clothes, and when our overflowing closets demand a clear-out, the planet doesn’t always ...

How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

You can minimise your carbon footprint and help the environment in many different ways. Whether at home, work, school, or while you travel, small ...

Climate Grief 101: What Is It And What To Do Next

Do melting ice caps, deforestation and plastic pollution keep you up at night? You might be experiencing climate grief. Also referred to as ecolog...

The New Seasonal Baker On The Block: Meet Chez Ella

There's a new seasonal baker on the block, and we want to know all about it! This weekend we sat down with Ella Harding, Founder of Chez Ella Lond...

Meet The World's First Sex Toy Made From Ocean Plastic

Meet ohhcean® The first sex toy range in the world made with ocean-bound plastic. The ohhcean collection features silky silicone covered sex toys ...

Redefining Shareholder Activism: With Tulipshare

This week we enter the world of investing. What is shareholder activism and why is it an important part of individual action when it comes to comba...

How To Bring Mother Nature Into Our Daily Lives

Your relationship with Mother Nature will last your whole life, so it’s worth spending some quality time together. Have you stepped outside and fe...

Meet The Seasonal Florists Putting The Planet First This Valentine's Day

Did you know that 90% of all purchased flowers in the Uk are imported from overseas?! And 250 million roses are grown each year for valentines day?...

How To Do A January Clear Out, Sustainably

Brits are expected to throw out 67 million items of clothing THIS MONTH, along with furniture, tech and more. So, how can be have January clear out...

Ways to be more environmentally friendly in the kitchen

Six tips for being an eco-warrior in the kitchen!With the effects of the climate crisis already being felt across the world, more of us than ever a...

Simple Ways To Love Your Clothes Longer in 2022

A List of Simple Ways to Love Your Clothes Longer in 2022❤️1. Vote with your purchases Where you choose to spend your money really does have an im...

In Pictures: Kings Road Holiday Concept Store

WELCOME TO THE 114 KINGS ROAD HOLIDAY CONCEPT STORE Welcome to our first ever concept store, in partnership with HURR. During November - December...

Ways To Recycle Your Tree This Festive Season

Did you know that 8 million trees are thrown out in the UK each year— all of this waste amounts to around 120,000 tonnes, which predominantly end u...

A London Guide To Thrifting

A London Guide To Vintage  •  From one of a kind pieces to vintage furniture, its true that buying second hand is not only fun but it reduces the o...

An Ode To Trees

An ode to trees • Our tall green friends are more than just part of our natural landscape—They provide shelter and food for wildlife, they absorb ...

A London Guide To: Wellness

 We believe that selfceare and wellness are a crucial part of living a more conscious and sustainable life— so we put together our top spots in Lo...

Community Litter Picking Event

Join us on 10th November at 1pm, for a lunch time of litter picking, and connecting with a community of humans who want to make change. We will me...

A London Guide To: Farmers Markets

A London Guide To: Farmers Markets • We all know that adopting a more planet based diet is one of the most effective ways we can lower our impact o...

Anxious about the climate crisis? The cure for it is action

A thought piece by Beth Thoren (Director of Environmental Action EMEA, Patagonia) on ecoanxiety, action and volunteering for Stories Behind Thing...

Film Premier: Fashionscapes: A Circular Economy

Link here to watch the full film. Monday mornings started right! This morning the Stories Behind Things team had the pleasure of attending the pr...

Future Dreams Collection: Breast Cancer Awareness

  Y.O.U Underwear has launched its pink Future Dreams Collection in collaboration with breast cancer charity Future Dreams ahead of Breast Cancer...

A London Guide To: Eating Plant Based

A London Guide to Eating Plant Based  • Animal farming accounts for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as plants grown for consumption, accordi...

Bringing nature indoors

Bringing nature indoors Our world’s population is becoming increasingly urban. According to the United Nations, in 2016 an estimated 54.5% of peop...

In Pictures: The Shop by Stories Behind Things

Welcome to our first ever in store experience! We hosted The Shop, this August, a pop up curated by yours truly - to bring together brands who prio...

The Future Of Community: Getting To Know The WIP

We wanted to take a moment to introduce The WIP to you! We are excited to share they are sponsoring The Shop, our first ever in person store experi...

5 Questions With Irregular Sleep Pattern

We sit down with Irregular Sleep Pattern, to learn more about why they started and what being a sustainable brand means to them.     1. Wha...

At home with Filippa K

At home with Filippa K featuring low impact materials that respect the planet, and the people who are behind these pieces! Did you know Filippa ...

Tips For Climate Anxiety

What do you do when climate news gets too much? We spoke to our Founder Jemma to hear some ways she re balances in times like this. We’ve been rec...

5 Books On Waste

New upload to the #SBTbookClub Five books exploring the concept of waste 🚯🗑 Waste Not by James Beard Foundation The James Beard Foundation s co...

The Future of Travel: In Conversation with Brompton Bike Hire

What are the current problems in the bicycle industry when it comes to sustainability? The bicycle industry face many of the same challenges as a...

New Report Shows Shifting Mindsets In London

  A new report has been published exploring the mindsets of Londoners when it comes to our climate crisis. ⁣ ⁣Climate change is the large-scale, lo...

How AI Can Help Tackle The Climate Crisis

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the planet. It will need every solution possible, including technology like artificial intell...

Is Lab Grown The Future?

From meat to diamonds, lab grown is starting to take centre stage as a more planet friendly option to growing materials. The diamond industry is kn...

Nature At Its Finest #3

Nature At Its Finest • A new photo series where we share untouched environments on our planet in their natural and wild habitat.  Next up we have...

Top zero waste restaurants in London

The hospitality industry is renowned for its waste, especially when it comes to food waste, packaging and plastics. We wanted to shine a light on t...

Nature At Its Finest #2

Nature At Its Finest • Welcome to a new photo series where we share untouched environments on our planet in their natural and wild habitat.  Ne...

Interview with Willow Defebaugh, Editor-in-cheif of Atmos

We are excited to share our most recent interview! We speak with Willow Defebaugh, Editor-in-cheif of climate and culture platform and magazine Atm...

Nature At Its Finest #1

Nature At Its Finest • Welcome to a new photo series where we share untouched environments on our planet in their natural and wild habitat.    Th...

Top Zero Waste Stores In London

Now that the UK is opening back up again, we wanted to share our favourite zero waste stores that you can visit. From package free pasta to re...

5 Questions With Sheep Inc.

We sat down with Michael Wessely, the co founder of Sheep Inc. to learn more about the brand's mission and journey within sustainability. Sheep Inc...