So Black Friday is almost up on us again.
The craze that started in the USA and has spread over here in the last few years: a frenzy of consumer craziness where retailers go all out to slash their prices and entice you to buy buy buy.
The irony of Black Friday occurring in the USA the day after Thanksgiving is huge. The day after giving thanks, showing gratitude for all that you have, American consumers are sold the story that what they have is not quite enough after all. Maybe they could be more grateful, if they had more stuff? And what they really need, is a massive shiny new TV, or the latest computer game, or a pair of shoes, or, or,….
Is it going too far to say that for me, Black Friday epitomises all that is wrong with our modern ‘developed’ consumer driven society?
Here’s 5 reasons why we should all say “Screw Black Friday”
1) You probably already have enough stuff.
Most of us are drowning under the weight of all our ‘stuff’. Not just the physical weight, and sheer volume of it all, but the mental weight too. Stuff takes up a mental space too, and sometimes it’s not until you start to offload some of it, that you realise quite how much space it is occupying.
2) A new TV/mobile phone/pair of amazing shoes will not make you happy.
Yes, it might for a day or two. Or even a week, or maybe a month. But after that, it will cease to become your wonderful new shiny toy, and will become normal, and your mind will start lusting after the next shiny new toy. And the cycle begins again.
Whatever is missing in your life, cannot be found on the High St, or even on Amazon.
3) You’re giving away your power to the big corporations, and the advertisers, and the marketers.
You are their puppet, doing their will, and making them money.
It’s your money.
You get to choose where you spend it, and when you spend it.
You can choose to spend it in small local businesses (on Small Business Saturday maybe?), where for every £1 you spend, 68p stays in the local economy, compared with only 40p when you shop at a national chain.
You can choose to spend it at a market, where your money is helping a local craftsperson, or small business owner to pay their mortgage, or feed their kids, rather than lining the pockets of share holders.
You can choose to spend it on ethical goods, from companies with transparent supply chains, who know that the people making their goods are being paid a living wage.
You can choose to spend it on secondhand goods, and support a charity, and save something from landfill, and help to preserve the world’s resources.
Or you can choose not to spend it. And to make do, or to mend.
But you can choose.
And therein lies the power.
4) People matter more than stuff.
Whether it’s the people being physically knocked out of the way in scrums for cheap ‘things’ or the people far away, toiling away in factories in who knows what kind of condition, sometimes for pennies, to make us stuff.
People matter more.
5) The stuff you buy has an impact on the planet.
Like it or not, everything we buy has an impact. It uses up resources, many of which are becoming increasingly scarce. It takes energy (oil) to make the stuff, and to get it to our High Streets (or online warehouses). And when it’s no longer wanted, it sits and rots (or not) in landfill.
Everything has an impact.
No matter how of a Black Friday mega deal it is, everything has an impact.
I’m not the only one railing against the madness of Black Friday, there is a growing Anti Black Friday movement. And I’m not the only one to take to their blog to vent their frustrations either: The Minimalists have written a great piece here, and there’s some great alternatives to Black Friday here.
Some retailers are even choosing to opt out of the madness, with Asda saying this year that they are not taking part, and Buy Nothing Day is an antidote to Black Friday that seems to be gaining some traction.
I love the idea of Buy Nothing Day as a very visible stand against the obscene celebration of consumption that is Black Friday, but this post here from the Non Consumer Advocate makes a very good point: what about the other 364 days of the year. And it’s true.
What we need is 365 days of consuming (or not) more consciously.
Buying stuff is ok.
But we all need to do it with more thought, more deliberation, more awareness, of what we are buying, why we are buying it, and the impact that it has.