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The True Cost of Black Friday

As we become more conscious of overconsumption and move towards buying less, there are multiple brands that are opting out of Black Friday sales altogether. But with $7.9 billion in online revenue last year in the US alone, there's still a huge shift that needs to happen.

Cary Somers, founder of Fashion Revolution said that Black Friday represents a sore spot in an industry that runs on overproduction. This hyper discount culture fuels brands to produce too much stock, knowing that they will be able to sell it on sale once the holiday season comes around. This allows them to appeal to a wider audience - the ones that will buy full price, and the bargain hunters. Whatever is not sold then gets trashed, donated, or sold at insanely reduced prices.

“For all the media scrutiny surrounding leading brands incinerating unsold stock over the past year, we were surprised to see that only 26.5% of brands and retailers describe what they are doing to reduce the amount of unsold and defective stock,” said Somers.

An amazing way to use unsold stock is to partner with organizations like Delivering Good, which presented at Kingpins NY last week. Delivering Good "is an extremely efficient charity, with more than 98% of revenue dedicated to its charitable program of distributing apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items." They take in excess and defective merchandise that would otherwise be unsold. This not only helps communities in need, but it also means that unused goods will be diverted from the landfill or incineration! To date, Delivering Good has donated over 11 million units, showing the world how significant the positive social and environmental impact donating can have. Look for brands who are partnering with organizations like this, but most importantly the ones who value the "buy less, buy better" mantra.

I know how hard it can be to avoid the sales, but when you begin to be more mindful, you can see that you actually spend more than you normally would! It's only human nature to believe that you should buy that item now because you'll save money on it, but in reality, would you really end up buying that $10.00 pair of trendy jeans if they weren't on sale? Probably not. And by taking up these deals, we are sending brands a message that it is okay to overproduce. We've been told that buying things will make us feel better or be a better version of ourselves, but a sale purchase really only results in a moment of happiness.

Greenpeace conducted a study on the international problem of overconsumption and found that shopping doesn't make people happy, as the excitement only gives a temporary fix. About 50% of the subjects said that this excitement only lasts about a day :/ and their main drivers for purchasing were: excitement, confidence, and boredom.

Not only does boycotting Black Friday help your wallet, it helps mama earth! 60% of Americans plan to shop on Black Friday, which causes a huge spike in delivery vehicles on the road, and shipping companies, like Canada Post, actually start shipping 7 days a week. In 2017, it was estimated that every 93 seconds, a diesel truck left an Amazon fulfillment center. Black Friday also contributes to the mass amounts of waste from purchases that have been bought on impulse and not for a lifetime investment.

“Cheap prices may seem appealing in the short term,” says Somers, “but all of us as global citizens will ultimately end up paying the external cost, the true cost of the unsustainable consumption and production of cheap clothing based on the exploitation of raw materials, workers and the environment.”

With the overwhelming stats, there is a movement towards #GreenFriday with over 135k posts and #BoycottBlackFriday on Instagram. Huit Denim said it best in a campaign from a couple of years ago:

What can you do this Black Friday?

  • Repair what you have.

  • Buy experiences over things.

  • If you must shop, buy used products or those made from upcycled or recycled content, bring your own bags, bundle shopping excursions, only buy what you need, and ask yourself if you will wear the item for at least 5 years or 30x.

I hope this encourages you to think differently about holiday sales, and in the meantime, follow me along my sustainable denim journey and STAY DILIGENT FRIENDS!


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