Sustainability and Black Friday

The statement above is inherently an oxymoron. However, what are some good ways to consume in a responsible manner for the upcoming season of deals and discounts?

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge how overconsumption is a term laden with privilege - many people consume little out of necessity. Having the ability to consume a lot is first and foremost a privilege that is not afforded to everyone.

Additionally, be kind to yourself and others. We live in a culture where we are constantly consuming (social media) or, at the very least, encouraged to consume (advertising). With the holidays coming up, tradition has become ingrained with consumerist values. Undoing these values and working toward more sustainable modes of consumption will not happen overnight. However, I thought I would include some tips and resources that help me consume more consciously.

1. Shop local! This is an obvious one but more important than ever. With the pandemic, the inequalities in our society have been highlighted and exacerbated. One way to work against this is to vote with our dollars in favor of small businesses/BIPOC businesses. Thrift shopping is a great option as well!

2. In that same vein, avoid Amazon (and the like) as much as possible. Here, I think some nuance is important. Amazon dominates the market with its vast array of products, media, and even server storage space. Some consumption from sites like Amazon may be unavoidable. I would encourage everyone to only use these websites as a last resort, however!

3. Don't go onto online shopping websites without an explicit purpose. This is a big one for me. Online shopping because of boredom usually leads to buying unnecessarily (at least for me). If Black Friday is a good opportunity for you to save money for gifts or buy something you've had your eye on for a long time, go for it. Otherwise, you can't be tempted if you don't know what you could be tempted by.

4. Consumption merely because you're getting a good deal is not the way to go. You save more money by not buying that thing anyway! If companies are able to significantly slash prices it's because they're cutting corners somewhere else - such as not paying their workers fairly or engaging in environmentally damaging practices.

5. Buy fewer, but higher quality products if you are able. The hope is with less consumption the higher quality products you will be able to consume. Of course, this comes with a degree of privilege as brands with strong ethics and an environmental focus tend to be more expensive.

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