Black Friday is a fucked up American phenomenon whereby the day after thanksgiving large scale corporations (& in recent years also smaller businesses) provide high level reductions on purchases so as to drive sales.
Black Friday seems to work upon the principle that you spend a day with your friends & family giving thanks for all that you have & then make sure you get up extra early the next day to make damn sure that you at the very least triple it.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of people being trampled to death in department stores to buy a flat screen TV for yet another room in your house, & while consumers may feel it is worth it because they are making savings, what is the true cost of those reductions?
💗 Small business: firstly, these reductions in pricing serve to further undercut local business many of whom are already struggling to compete.
Small businesses often have trouble remaining in the market in the face of larger corporations as they don’t have the overall profits to expand, diversify & cover any losses. High scale reductions by multinationals only exacerbate this problem & leave smaller businesses having to make unsustainable price cuts.
Ultimately, this pattern of behaviour will put smaller businesses out of the running which pushes individuals (that’s you & me) into a world of zero hours contracts, workfare & what has sometimes been referred to as McJobs. The point is – it puts monopolistic corporations in the driving seat & stamps out individuality – fuck that
💗 Environmental: buying more than you need increases GHGs (through production, transportation & usage), waste to landfill, environmental damage & reduces global resources (resources that might be better dedicated towards solving issues like climate change or world hunger). – f.u.c.k. t.h.a.t.
I’m no environmental expert but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that less is definitely less when it comes to consumption & environmental impacts.
💗 Global supply chains: these reductions more often than not do not come out of ‘the bank of mum & dad’ – meaning it’s not the corporation that takes the hit.
More often than not, the burden of these reductions & the pressure of financial responsibility is pushed back down the supply chain. This essentially is a breeding ground for breaches of international best practice standards like reasonable working hours or the payment of decent wages. These kind of reductions affect production timescales, business prosperity & eventually worker health – FUCK THAT!!!!
I get asked all the time by friends & consumers how to shop ethically because of the industry that I work in. I think many feel helpless as to where to go & what to do & most just want a simple answer like ‘shop with this particular seller’.
There are businesses who excel in particular areas but no-one is perfect & to be honest new things crop up all the time. Staying on top of these trends is a full time job (which is essentially why I get paid to do what I do) & in a world of differing certifications, information & labels, the life of an ethical consumer can be hard.
My main advice as a starting point for ethical purchasing is the obvious – opt out of days like today because they don’t really benefit anybody.
Efforts are constantly being made for businesses to be more responsible towards society & the environment, but at least for the time being businesses are ultimately financial machines & they require your buy-in to profit. Challenges are also made from activist organisations & inviduals who feel there is a certain lack of democracy that goes alongside unaccountable, transnational big business. But we aren’t victims, & every time we make a purchase we are buying into something bigger than ourselves, a set of values, a set of practices, the world we want to live in.
I’m not trying to tell anyone how to spend their money as that is a very personal choice & unfortunately we are not always prosperous enough to be able to forego a sale. I’m also not saying that you should never shop with big corporations (they provide a lot of jobs & do a lot of good work globally). But what I am saying is to consider what/where you are buying, consider whether you REALLY need what you are buying, & where possible make choices that you know create as little negative impact as possible.
Cuts in price more often than not lead to cuts in individual prosperity, and that’s not always a price we can afford to pay.