Like a lot of American traditions, Black Friday has (over the years) caught on within the Australian retail scene, promising bargain buys that you’ll never be able to get again!! They’re always limited in edition, while stocks last or never seen before discounts.
Are they really though?
One study showed that 60% of all items tracked were actually available for the same price or cheaper throughout the year. So, while you may think that shirt you’ve been eyeing off with the ‘massive’ discount is something you must have or the brand-new toaster that’s as cheap as chips, ask yourself, “is this something I actually need?” or “is there something wrong with what I’ve currently got?” Chances are, you’ve probably got a similar shirt in the back of your wardrobe that you’ve only ever worn once, or your toaster (in fact) works perfectly fine. If it’s worth buying on Black Friday, it’ll be worth buying any other day of the year too.
Believe it or not, most times when you flash the cash (or contactless payment because, ya know, COVID), you’re hurting your bank account as well as the planet. We shop on Black Friday for Christmas presents and ‘bargain’ items that provide us with instant gratification, but our cycle of consumerism is really taking its toll on our planet. “According to Business Insider, the fashion industry contributes ten percent of humanity’s carbon emissions. What’s more, instead of being reused or repurposed, each year, 85 percent of all textiles end up in the dump. Though awareness of climate change is increasing rapidly, fast fashion is rarely held accountable.”
The whole thought of harming the planet through consumerism might seem a little OTT, and you might be thinking, “ok sure but my new washing machine/hair dryer is the only thing I bought and it’s super energy/water efficient. How could this possibly do any harm to the planet?” and in hindsight, if it was just you it wouldn’t be as drastic. But with 7.8 billion people currently living on Earth, with Black Friday sales operating in most parts of the world in some form, everything unnecessary you buy to replace something else you currently own ends up in landfill, which is contributing to the pollution of our environment. If it’s something that you do need then of course go for it! But buying an appliance just to have the latest model might be something you could reconsider.
Ok so we’ve harped on a bit about the environment and buying just coz, but sometimes there may be a deeper reason behind the Black Friday spending. With COVID hitting us hard this year, there may be some families that simply are struggling to make ends meet and buying when things are discounted is their only option – the same goes for people who might be doing it tough in regular circumstances as well. While we do encourage you to refrain from unnecessary spending where possible, we also understand that this may be the only option some families have to keep afloat.
As our understanding of consumerism and its impact on the environment grows, more companies are choosing to avoid the bigger sale days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and click frenzy. “Other Aussie businesses, including luxury streetwear label PYRA and kids clothing label Goldie + Ace, are independently protesting the consumerism frenzy by stopping online sales or not participating in the event” an article by Smart Company stated. Not only this, but PYRA will actually be closing their webstore for five days during the frenzy. They’re not the only ones doing this, as many other stores are following suit and choosing not to participate in Black Friday.
You might think we’re focusing too much on the negatives, and we don’t want to tell you to stop all shopping! As the holiday season approaches, we are simply encouraging you to think about what you’re buying and where you’re buying it from and if you really need it. Where possible, support the little guys and shop local instead. Not only are you supporting a local business, but more than likely the quality of their items will be better than the major retail chains.
This Christmas season, stay safe, consume consciously and always ask the question – do I REALLY need this?