Is Black Friday a dark day for the planet? This growing movement thinks so

  • More than 300 brands have told shoppers to turn their backs on Black Friday deals to help the environment
  • The Make Friday Green Again collective wants people to join the circular economy by repairing, recycling or selling things they already own
  • The way we currently manufacture and consume products from food to fashion is unsustainable
  • Consumers can help drive change by buying only what they need

What is the true cost of a good deal? Black Friday bargains may not be as cheap as you think, according to one advocacy group – urging shoppers to rethink how, what and why they buy.

Comprising more than 300 retail brands, the Make Friday Green Again collective is shunning the annual November shopping day for environmental reasons, and is asking the global public to do the same.

Rather than spend, spend, spend on new clothes, would-be shoppers are being encouraged to sort through the clothes they already own to repair, recycle or sell things.

A new look

The growth of fast fashion has transformed the global clothing business, encouraging shoppers to buy more by offering cheap prices and ensuring stores are filled with regular quick-turnaround style changes.

Garments are bought, worn and quickly discarded in favour of newer trends, which in turn are soon replaced. Overconsumption encourages overproduction, which exacerbates climate change.

Image: Statista

Annually, global CO2 emissions from textile production are equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes, according to Greenpeace – more than the combined carbon footprint of all international flights and world shipping.

In 2016, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions from the apparel and footwear industries alone reached almost 4 million tonnes in a single year.

Retail groups say Black Friday gives people a chance to buy things they wouldn’t usually be able to afford. Make Friday Green Again, though, views the day of discounted deals and sales promotions as adding to a spiral of overconsumption by encouraging people to buy things they don’t need.

UK consumer group Which? questions if Black Friday bargains offer customers all they promise. A study of items offered during the 2018 event found more than 60% of products could be bought for less before the sale, and 95% were available cheaper or at the same price afterwards.

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