How to Have a Green Friday
Green Friday is an initiative that began as a way to combat the chaos and consumerism of Black Friday. As I’m sure you know, Black Friday isn’t a recognised holiday but takes place on the day after Thanksgiving and, since 2005, has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in America. Increasingly the UK and Europe too!
Many shoppers on Black Friday will queue outside their favourite stores for hours in order to get the best deals and the infamous violent outbreaks are often well documented on the news.
A refreshing alternative to all this consumerism is Green Friday. Although it doesn’t have a single corporation behind it, Green Friday is more of a general idea that has bubbled up from groups of like-minded people. The idea of Green Friday is to encourage people to move away from their screens, stop buying unnecessary items and spend quality time with their families over the holidays. Some companies, ourselves included, like to use Green Friday to encourage people to think about shopping sustainably and conscious consumerism. This could be buying gifts that have longevity and purpose built into them such as reusable coffee cups, straws and cutlery. This still allows you to give, but in the hope that robust, long lasting reusables will keep countless disposables out of landfill. Most importantly it starts the conversation - raising awareness of hidden environmental issues and how every time we spend money, we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want.
The concept of conscious consumerism was summarised in a Guardian article back in 2015:
"The problem is the world of business can be opaque and supply chains are murky, so it is difficult to confidently make an informed choice.
Consider this: the retail manufacturing industry is the second most polluting industry on earth, second only to oil. According to Annie Leonard, an expert in overconsumption, only 1% of the materials used to produce our consumer goods are still in use six months after sale. Somewhere, the value of craftsmanship and of provenance has been lost. Price and speed are trumping value.
As well as asking questions and digging a little deeper into the the origin of the goods you buy, there are plenty of activities you can partake in instead of shopping.
- Create something: You could spend the day painting a picture, learning how to crochet, or baking a delicious cake to share with your loved ones. How about getting started on some DIY Christmas gifts?
- Get outdoors: Grab your bike, your friends, some snacks and a map and get out there! You could cycle to your favourite viewpoint, walk around a forest you’ve never explored before, or simply sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in.
- Support something: Whether it’s donating money, time or resources, find a cause that you’re passionate about and go and help any way you can. If you genuinely need and want to buy gifts for the festive season, consider supporting independent local shops in your area or buying from artists or creators that sell on Etsy. On your grocery shop, buy two of some staples and donate to a Food Bank or The Hygiene Bank - give a gift to those in need.
- Do something nice: (This blog was publish on World Kindness Day!) Maybe you could visit an elderly neighbour who lives alone, or volunteer at a local beach clean or litter pick. There are lots of ideas out there for Random Acts of Kindness (RAK). Doing something that benefits others can give you far more satisfaction than shopping for more unnecessary items.
- Start saving: With the money you’ve saved from not splurging in the shops you could put the cash towards your first house, or start a fund for that adventure you’ve always wanted to take.
For most of us in the UK, it's just a normal work, school or life day! But it's nice to have an excuse think about alternative stuff we could be doing or something to enjoy on the weekend. Get out there and do something that makes you feel good, feel happy and feel alive.