Is a sustainable Black Friday possible?

Is a sustainable Black Friday possible?

It’s that time of year again. The sales season, the quintessential celebration of consumerism, is here. Although brands can bring in an entire month’s worth of sales in a single weekend, Black Friday and Cyber Monday encourage overconsumption, normalizes throwaway culture, and have devastating environmental effects (think of all the packaging, transport, landfilled returns, etc.). Make no mistake, sales season costs the planet and people big time.


Fortunately, a growing movement of impact-driven brands is opting out of this overconsumption frenzy and joining forces in sustainable and impactful initiatives.

Green Friday

Green Friday, launched in 2015 as a counter-movement to Black Friday, is ditching the “shop ’til you drop” mentality and encouraging consumers to shop more consciously and sustainably.

Extending the life of products is one of the best ways to minimize their impact. That’s why Secrid, a Dutch wallet manufacturer committed to zero-waste production, is offering free repairs on its products on Green Friday.

For Green Friday, Rituals is offering a 20% discount on all its sustainable refills. As a certified B Corp committed to becoming net-zero by 2050, Rituals is constantly looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and produce less waste.

Secrid Green Friday initiative to boycott Black Friday

Buy Nothing Day 

Launched by Canadian artist Ted Dave in 1992, Buy Nothing Day was born to raise awareness about the issue of overconsumption. Although the name can be misleading, Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your habits for a day, but about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. 

Independent Swedish apparel brand Asket is offering its customers 0% off everything. A tempting offer, isn’t it? With this campaign, they make customers ask themselves: ‘do I really need this?’ This is a question we should ask ourselves before we buy anything.

Circular Monday

Founded in 2017 in Sweden, by start-up founder Henning Gillberg, Circular Monday was devised as an antidote to Black Friday, which promotes linear (over)consumption, promoting circular consumption instead. It involves companies with circular economy business models that promote circular alternatives of selling, renting, sharing, and repairing products made out of recycled materials, including second-hand services.

Giving Tuesday

Sustainable brands are also promoting the Giving Tuesday movement, which was launched in 2012. It usually takes place the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and encourages people to donate to organizations that support humanitarian and environmental causes. Since its launch, Giving Tuesday has inspired people and brands to donate over $1.9 billion to NGOs in the US alone. 

In past years, Patagonia donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental causes. In 2016, the sustainable apparel brand donated a whopping sum of $10 million to help protect our air, water, and soil. All sorts of brands have followed suit. In 2018, Pukka Herbs donated 100% of its sales, and Belgian eco webshop Kudzu donated €2 per purchase to plant trees.

Aside from not engaging with the Black Friday sales approach, Patagonia encourages customers to purchase used items with their ‘Worn Wear’ program. It enables customers to sell their used clothes to support a circular economy. This can make a big difference for our climate, waste, and water consumption, as extending the lifespan of clothes by 9 months is estimated to decrease their environmental impacts by 20-30% compared to purchasing new items.

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Boycott Black Friday

Another interesting trend is companies closing their stores on Black Friday. Sustainable bag manufacturer Freitag closes its online store on Black Friday and encourages people to swap their used bags through their Take-back program to promote a circular economy and raise awareness about overconsumption.

Another company that has decided to close its online and in-store is skincare brand, DECIEM. For the fourth year in a row, DECIEM has launched the ‘Slowvember’. Instead of one-off deals encouraging customers to bulk buy unnecessary skincare products, the beauty brand offers 23% off all its legendary skincare products throughout November. 

The beauty company has also launched the ‘KNOW-vember’ movement. Each day of November, DECIEM posts content on its website and social media about the negative impact of Black Friday. The goal is to educate people and draw attention to overconsumption.

As active players in the sustainability space, we know that changing consumer behavior is an uphill battle, especially in a time when over-consumption is considered the norm.

However, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their consumption habits on the planet. Analyzes of consumer attitudes show that over the last five years, online searches for terms such as sustainable fashion and sustainable packaging have seen a 210% and 123% increase, respectively. As people are becoming more mindful of ethical consumption, companies now need to communicate their sustainability actions and impact practices efficiently if they are to convert customers.

Do you need help communicating about your business sustainability practices? 


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