During this time of the year, we often hear about Black Friday. Sales galore, both online and instore purchases. But do you know that there is also Green Friday? Funny that we associate colors with the day after Thanksgiving.
What makes a day a day? Is it the color? Or is it what we associated with? Some say a day is what you make it. Sometimes, it is just a schedule. It is a schedule that will look up to because something eventually happens on that said day. It is also a time when we usually do the things we do such as creating memories or events that could impact our lives. It is also a reflection of how we use or consume things responsibly.
A day could be a reminder to remember, commemorate, or celebrate important matters. These important matters affect how we deal with our fellow human beings and the planet.
The need to consume less
Consumption does not only mean “eating”. It may also mean using products or services. Fuel, gadgets, and the like are just some of the products that people use for their consumption. Consumption is not a bad idea it is a basic need to keep one working and of course, to keep the economy working.
So, when does consumption become bad? Consumption becomes a problem when it becomes excessive. And this excessive consumption or overconsumption can impose a threat to human society as well as to the planet. The problem with overconsumption is that it reduces the ability of the planet to provide the materials or things needed to support life and biodiversity on the planet. Overconsumption makes it difficult for sustainability to prosper since it turns resources into waste in just a short period.
A study published by a multinational team of scientists in 2020 said that overconsumption is the biggest threat to sustainability, and drastic changes in lifestyle should be done to address the ecological crisis. Also, the planet can no longer sustain the human population if we continue destroying the degrading world’s forests. All the forests are expected to disappear in approximately 100 to 200 years. This directory would cause the amount of civilization to collapse because it endangers the necessary support life such as oxygen, soil conservation, water cycle regulation, support for natural and human food systems, and homes for countless species (Nafeez Ahmed, 2020).
Further, the rising issue of climate change is also the result of our problem in the overconsumption of fuel that contributes to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The United Nations believes climate change is a defining issue of our time. Climate change leads to rising sea levels, sinking of ice caps, flooding, and strong typhoons that further damage the ecology and human lives.
With these rising issues and overconsumption as a driving force that aggravate the problems, the need to consume less plays a vital role in environmental mitigation. It would also provide benefits both for humans and the planet. Here are five things that you can gain when you consume less:
Using only what you need makes you consume less and if you are already doing it, then you probably were able to save resources that you can use for the future. For instance, if you are shopping for food that is fresh produce from your local farmers, you are cutting some of the energy provided during transport of food imported from other places, or if you go shopping with your reusable bag or purchasing products will less plastic packaging, you already help address the growing issue on plastics as well as the usage of raw materials in making plastic products such energy, fuel, and water. When you avoid using single-use plastic, you are not only saving some pennies but also both the planet and the resources that come with it.
Further, you make yourself more advantageous as you can maximize the available resources that you already have at home. For instance, in your closet, according to a survey, the percentage of clothes that go unworn is a lot higher than most consumers think. A study conducted by Movinga, participated by 18,000 heads of households in 20 countries revealed that the majority of consumers around the world are highly delusional about how much they own versus how much they wear (Marjorie Van Elven, 2018). Thus, maximizing the clothes inside your closet by recreating, mixing, and matching them can help you mitigate the impact of fast fashion as well as help you save more money that you can use for other things such as investing for your health insurance or maybe for your retirement plan.
These instances are just some of the few ways that show you can save resources while consuming less.
There are 8 million metric tonnes of plastic that are currently circulating in the ocean. There are also 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste that the world generated in 2019. And around the world according to The World Bank, “waste generation rates are rising. In 2016, the worlds’ cities generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste, amounting to a footprint of 0.74 kilograms per person per day. With rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050”.
While the world is also emitting billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. For instance, in 2018, the top 5 countries emitted billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide: China with 10.06 billion metric tonnes, the United States with 5.41 billion metric tonnes, India with 2.65 billion metric tonnes, Russian Federation with 1.71 billion metric tonnes, and Japan with 1.16 billion metric tonnes (Andriy Blokhin, 2020).
The data shown express one thing, there is a lot of waste, and these are coming from our collective consumption of products and services. According to Science Daily, “Professor Ken Peattie, Director of the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS), Cardiff University, describes three projects which are linked to different aspects of waste reduction at the production stage and in consumption”. The key to dealing with the escalating waste problem lies in changing buying habits and attitudes to consumption as per the suggestion of the authors of a new Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) publication.
Thus, reducing waste is parallel to reducing consumption.
The lesser the consumption, the lesser the demand. And if we can lower the demand for such as the need to purchase gadgets, we can also help reduce the demand for raw materials such as energy and minerals. For instance, the need for minerals requires mining.
And we already know how mining can devastate the environment. At some point mining also exploit workers, because some of the workers working in the mining area are not wearing standard protective gear. Mining areas are also prone to soil erosion as well as flooding that could carry harmful chemicals (use in mining) to streams. So, to lessen our consumption of materials requiring minerals from the ground can help lessen the demand for it.
Consuming less meat can also help you promote a healthy lifestyle as well as could help the environment. Since animal farming also contributes to greenhouse gasses that provoke climate change, consuming less of it could impact demand can help you become healthy because you can avoid the risk of having a heart problem or high blood pressure.
Another instance is when you go on walking or cycling for short-distance travel instead of using your car. Automobiles such as cars require fuels to make it run, thus resulting in another contribution of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Whereas, walking or cycling can help you cut the unnecessary emission of greenhouse gasses while it can improve your health. According to studies, walking and cycling can help you burn calories and promote mental health as can reduce anxiety and depression.
Doing the above mention is just one way to make you healthy while consuming less. They are not just cost-efficient but also realistic to do.
Reducing your meat intake, avoiding single-use plastic, and having a zero-waste lifestyle are just some of the things you can do to lessen consumption. However, the things you might think that you can do within yourself and your household could a way of forming a social action. Because when more and more people becoming aware of how they consume, it could start a movement which calls to address the pressing issue on consumption as well as its environmental effects.
And this can call on for a sustainable policy that can be supported by people as well as legislators and executives. Also, your simple way of consuming less can become part of the collective action for climate justice. And this is absolutely a good vision to make into reality.
What is Black Friday?
The third Black Friday is also used the describes the panic of 1869 when on September 24, 1869, the two investors came up with a conspiracy who bought gold related to the crash of Wall Street (Sarah Pruitt, 2020)
There was an event in 1950, when does summer bunch of person to responded to the city of Philadelphia that caused chaos before the day of the Navy football game. And the dream used to describe the event was coined by Philadelphia police was Black Friday ( Sarah Pruitt, 2020).
However, in late 1980, Black Friday had a new term that is not associated with bad events. Retailers invented it and turn it into something that you’re reflected positively which conveyed the concept of reading the black concept of holidays (Sarah Pruitt, 2020).
Thus, making a flock of consumers often shop during Black Friday. However, the spice of its positive stampede and violence happen due to the lack of securities. For instance, the Black Friday of 1983, customers engaged in scuffles, fistfights, and stampedes in US stores (Adam Hayes, 2020).
Nowadays, the contemporary definition of Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving which typically means a day full of shopping deals and big discounts especially on electronics, toys, or whatever hottest products that have cool offers from the retailers (Adam Hayes, 2020).
Based on the Keynesian assumption when spending can drive economic activity, economies believe that Black Friday is an indication of sales growth. The strong sales during this time are beneficial for retail sectors particularly for companies that report strong sales (How Thanksgiving and Black Friday Affects stocks, 2020).
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated 165.8 million consumers shopped during the holiday weekend between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2018 (Adam Hayes, 2020).
According to Black Friday.com the following shopping and spending during Black Friday in 2019 are as follow:
“Despite Cyber Monday and other major shopping holidays around the Thanksgiving weekend, Black Friday reigns as the most popular day to shop: 61% of Thanksgiving Week shoppers said they planned to shop on Black Friday 2019.
Thanksgiving weekend (Turkey Day through Cyber Monday) drew 189.6 million U.S. shoppers.
From Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, shoppers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items. That was up from 16% to $313.29 in 2018.
Black Friday 2019 (Thanksgiving plus Black Friday) raked in $11.9 billion in online sales: $7.5 billion spent on Black Friday and $4.4 billion spent on Thanksgiving”.
However, according to Blackfridaydeathcount.com, Black Friday led to 12 deaths and 117 injuries from 2006 to 2018.
Black Friday is a friendly shopping spree that is quite phenomenal when it comes to sales and consumption of both the retailers and the consumers on the day after Thanksgiving.
Environmental impact of Black Friday
According to National Geographic, the analysis done by Vox and the University of California’s Climate Lab found that two-day shipping left a bigger carbon footprint than slower options that shipped over a week. The study revealed that the faster the shipping requires more diesel-using trucks on the ground and less efficient shipping systems because it is not like the old days where companies optimize their shipping capacities.
The products that the consumers usually purchase during Black Friday are electronics, fast fashion, and plastics (Sarah Gibbens, 2018). These purchased products would soon turn into waste adding to the growing problems on waste.
For instance, the electrical and electronic equipment which have mostly have two to five years of life span would eventually turn to E-waste. The United Nations’ finding showed that about 20 percent of the amount of E-waste could go to the recycling process(Sarah Gibbens, 2018). And the rest of the E-waste goes to landfills or to other developing nations where recycling can be hazardous to the people in the said area such as in the case of Africa. E-waste is not only dangerous to humans but also the environment. It can pollute the land, water, and air. The toxic chemical compounds present in the E-waste make it dangerous both for humans and the planet.
Another is fast fashion. According to Business Insider, “The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics”. Worryingly, the fashion industry in their clothes productions is emitting more carbon compared to the total carbon emission of both international flights and maritime shipping (Morgan McFall-Johnsen, 2019). And even if clothes can be donated or recycled, it still does not solve the problem.
Further, the most purchased products- plastics are already overwhelming our oceans and landfills. The microplastics that are present both in water and land already causing so much devastation to the environment as they affect biodiversity as well as the food web.
The Black Friday frenzy of shopping empowered by unmindful shopping practices is a contributory factor in hurting the planet.
What is Green Friday?
Black is not always the color of Friday. There is also a day that is being celebrated during Black Friday called Green Friday. Green Friday is an act to boycott Black Friday to make it something green by not rushing into stores that offering big discounts (retrieved from Greenfriday.org.uk). It is trying to avoid the overconsumption during Black Friday at the same time avoiding the said day could bring such as stampede.
It is all about getting active and healthy, having fun and being out in nature, spending time with friends and family, and giving, sharing, and investing in others and worthwhile causes. It is also a movement. The idea of the “Green Friday movement is all about giving, and investing in things that matter and make life fulfilling, worthwhile and even beautiful”.
Green Friday encourages people to donate their preloved items or sell them to maximize the said items without further hurting the planet. Sometimes, the income in selling the preloved items goes to charities and initiatives.
Buy Nothing Day
The best way to positively describe the word “nothing” is ” Buy Nothing Day”. Buy Nothing Day or BND is an international protest day against consumerism. Buy Nothing Day was founded by Ted Dave, a Canadian artist in 1992. After activist magazine Adbusters magazine began to promote it, it gained traction through the 90s. As of 2016, BND was participated by 65 countries (Nina Renata Aron, 2016).
According to Carol Smith of United Nations University, “Buy Nothing Day is a good entry point into a cultural movement based on re-thinking what it means to celebrate, to express love, to reward ourselves”. BND allows someone to reexamines one’s consumption whether it is sustainable or not. This will allow someone to reflect on how one uses the ability to purchase.
During BND, different activities come into play as a way of protest against excessive consumerism. Activities such as silent protest where advocates and activities would stand out of the stores holding a placard with words “Buy Nothing”, Zombie Walk where participants acting as zombies wander in malls or stores with a blank stare where they describe BND to people who would ask them, and Whirl-Mart where participants would stroll in malls or stores with their cart without buying anything.
Buy Nothing Day could mean that you are avoiding the purchase of electronics, new clothes, and plastics which in return reducing the waste reaching both the landfills and the oceans.
Buy Nothing Day is also known as Green Friday. BND or Green Friday only proves one thing— be mindful of what you buy. So, if you still feel the urge to buy however remember that buying nothing is better than having everything during Black Friday.
Green Friday vs. Black Friday
Black Friday offers big discounts to make you buy more, consume more, and spend more. Whereas Green Friday will give you the choice to shop for pre-loved items which maximizing the use of certain items avoiding it to end in the landfill.
Black Friday will let you purchase the things at a cheaper price when in fact you do not need it. You invest in things that are not worthwhile. Whereas, Green Friday is the opposite. It will make you rethink if the things you are purchasing are something that you need or something that would turn into waste eventually.
Black Friday will expose you though chaos and accidents such as stampede and fist fighting because of the frenzied shopping. It will let you wait outside the store and sometimes could mean skipping Thanksgiving day for the sake of lower discounts and special offers. Whereas, Green Friday will make you spend more with your loved ones or spend yourself alone with nature and the wonders it could bring.
Black Friday is the day that describes how are responsible consumerism can lead to accidents which make the holiday less enjoyable. Black Friday makes one forgets the essence of giving since shoppers would have the feeling of “I need to take this before anyone can get it”. Whereas Green Friday is the total opposite since it encourages you to give more to your community and the planet.
However, at the end of the day, a day is not basically how you name it after the color. It is what you want it to become not only in the time of Black Friday. Because the actions you are making every day can impact the planet and other living creatures negatively or positively. Thus, it is you could determine if what color should be the color of the day.