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Black Friday and How to be a Sustainable + Conscious Consumer

I’ll have to admit that I can never turn down a good deal. Whether it be signing up for an email newsletter so that I can receive 15% off my first purchase or getting text message notifications, I plead guilty. Lucky for me (and many others), the end of November is the most shop-heavy season of the year. Gifts for friends? Yes. Gifts for the family? Yes. Gifts for me? Yes. We enter Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday. Lessening our overconsumption could have a surplus of benefits, primarily by being more conscious consumers. Pointing your consumption in the right direction can help support small businesses and lower your own carbon footprint.

The stigma that we have to work hard to play hard is one I learned early on my own during college. I had a part-time (but nearly full-time because of the hours I put in) job all throughout my four years in school. Working extra hours and taking people’s shifts meant my check would come out to more, which meant I’d be able to spend more money on things. Prior to my current journey of being a conscious consumer, I went haywire during Black Friday. It would start, of course, with saving money and soon enough Thanksgiving dinner would come. Soon after or in the early morning hours, I would make my way to the malls and shopping strips for candles, clothes, and the obligatory Auntie Anne's sweet almond pretzel for fuel. The marketing that happens during Black Fridays has created “a sense of urgency and limited availability to the consumer.” Back then, my thought process was that I had to buy twelve candles for two central reasons– the one-time-only deals and to make sure I had stockpiles of my favorite scents ready in a cupboard. Thankfully, I’ve burned through all those candles within a span of five years.

Shopping in person might sound prehistoric, but ever since the pandemic, lockdown has increased “the rate of online shopping.” Along with online shopping comes the excess of packaging. Global waste will continue to rise unless businesses incorporate the commitment to lowering their carbon footprint. This can be done by investing in green packaging or even recycled packaging versus ones that are non-recyclable. Apparently, “69% of environmentally-conscious buyers willingly pay a premium for recycled products,” This is something I’ve noticed in some of the brand. These brands range from those that produce ethically-made to non-ethically made product. Many have chosen to utilize sustainable packaging ranging from being compostable or recyclable. Personally, when a retailer utilizes recyclable or reusable packing, they earn a gold star from me. Even though it may appear to not be too notable in terms of effort, it still makes a big difference. Even if someone is still purchasing an item during the holidays from an online retailer, it’d be more rewarding to know the packaging can be reused or recycled responsibly and easily.

Now, what about the good things that Black Friday brings to the world? Bringing on the fact that “these sale days can actually be a great opportunity to support conscious brands more affordably”. For those dipping their toes into ethical clothing or eco-conscious gifting choices, I know that going to these stores regularly isn’t the most cost-efficient. Thankfully, there are brands out there that can be found on the blog Conscious Life & Style. On this particular blog, the products range from home goods to activewear. How can we incorporate shopping intentionally? By making sure that plan ahead of time, look into renting as a consideration and shopping during Small Business Saturday. Hear me out, you don’t have to necessarily seek out local artist markets in your area. In the case that you don’t know or have any near you, Etsy or StoreEnvy are great places to shop handmade items while also supporting a small business.

If you’d like to read more on how important it is to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday, which is coming in three days on November 27, check out Jhana’s blog post here.

Black Friday deals started two or so weeks ago for those that have been scoring online deals here in the U.S. Big box stores will officially begin opening their doors to the public as soon as 6 p.m. tomorrow or even tonight for all I know. What I do know is that as consumers, we have the power to control where our money goes. This holiday season, expect me to support small businesses like Embrh - a Chicago based market that rotates its vendors regularly to help expose their products to the community. I’ll make sure to tote along my reusable foldable bag which kills my need to use the store’s bags (because that bag tax is no joke and adds up).

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