Black Friday has become a money-spending extravaganza and somewhat of an institution. This year, it falls on the 26th of November. Consumers, including myself, wait for Black Friday to buy the things they need at discounted prices. This seems like a good thing though, doesn’t it? It boosts profits for businesses and consumers get great deals. Well, yes and no. Every year, millions of consumers across the world rush out to get the best deals.
And the whole thing seems perfect. You get to go out, usually around payday, and get deals that wouldn’t be available on any other day. But there’s an issue with all this. Black Friday is designed to encourage consumers to spend. But all too often, and I include myself here, we get swept away by bargain prices and end up buying things we don’t really need. So how can we stop this unnecessary spending and buy consciously this Black Friday?
What is the history of Black Friday?
Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday represents the unofficial beginning of the festive shopping season. However, the origins of the name are pretty dark. In fact, the earliest use of the phrase “Black Friday” dates back to 1869. It had absolutely nothing to do with shopping or Christmas. Instead, it marked the day that gold prices plummeted and the market crashed. The effects of this crash were of course felt for years to come in the US. But then Black Friday had somewhat of a revamp.
Around the 1960s traffic police in Philadelphia began referring to the shopping event as ‘Black Friday’ due to the hordes of shoppers it brought. This is because, of course, it resulted in massive traffic jams and even fights. So, despite the change, the name still held negative connotations.
Businesses of course didn’t love the negative associations with the name. It’s no surprise that PR firms came to the rescue. This leads us to the story you probably know when it comes to ‘Black Friday’. It is the day that the surge in spending puts retailers ‘in the black’.
What is conscious consumerism?
Conscious consumerism is essentially when we, as consumers, base our purchasing decisions on the social, economic, and environmental impact they have. Ultimately, it allows consumers to tell companies what they want by only spending on ethical and sustainable products.
This can sometimes include not purchasing from certain companies at all. Conscious consumers really think before they buy. One of the most important aspects of this is considering whether the purchase is really necessary at all.
Once you do make the decision to buy, consideration is then given regarding the company that supplies the product, as well as the potential impact of the product itself on the environment. Essentially, conscious consumerism aims to stop impulse purchasing. This puts consumers in charge, allowing us to dictate to companies through our buying power. This consumer consciousness has had a positive impact.
73% of consumers globally agree that they would likely change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. Millennials are even more willing to pay more for these products. In the US alone, consumers are expected to spend $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021.
How can we practice conscious consumerism on Black Friday?
So, is it even possible to practice conscious consumerism on Black Friday? The answer is definitely yes! Here are some tips and tricks on how to shop more consciously and sustainably this Black Friday:
- Give yourself a budget: One of the most important things to consider is how much you are willing to spend. Personally, I tend to put some money aside for Black Friday shopping and don’t go over that limit.
- Write yourself a list: In order to make sure that you only buy what you need, it’s best to have a plan of action and a list of what you want to buy. In my case, this often includes Christmas gifts for friends and family and any electronics that I might get cheaper.
- Know what you want and where you want to go: In order to not get caught up in the fray, make sure you know where you’re aiming to go and what a good price is for what you want.
- Take your own shopping bags: This seems like a simple thing but reducing waste in any way is a good idea.
- Consider your purchases: If you do end up considering something that isn’t on your list, think about whether you would still want it if it wasn’t on sale. Avoid buying just for the sake of it and if need be, walk around with your purchase and consider it before you rush to the counter.
- Support small businesses: These days, a lot of smaller businesses also tend to offer great specials on Black Friday. Supporting local and small businesses is always going to be better than supporting corporations like Amazon.