I think, most of us at least, were outraged at scenes from America on Black Friday when they were first televised a few years ago. Thousands of people fighting to get into one store to buy an even bigger television, or fridge, than the one they already had sitting at home. The day after being thankful for what you have then deciding that, actually, you don’t have enough after all and you need to fight for some more. But then Black Friday hit the UK and I, for one, was embarrassed to see the whole scene repeated in England. Because some stores took part, others felt they had to, or else lose out on sales. So, like in America, Black Friday escalated, and now it is a shopping event that consumers rely on. I can’t say I am exempt either, only last night I was skimming Black Friday deals to find the board game my child wants for Christmas at a reduced price (a whole four Pounds off… wooohooo?!?!).
Can I put the question out there, how much of this stuff do we really need? My Facebook is littered with the videos highlighting the importance of climate change reversal. We KNOW that plastic is a huge crisis, as is fast fashion, yet we can’t help ourselves, we just keep on buying. This week, in the lead up to Black Friday, I have been supporting Just A Card’s campaign to introduce Indie Friday instead. They have set out to highlight the importance of supporting local independent shops, artists and designers, instead of the massive high street brands. Of course, I would support this, I am an artist and the only wage I get comes from writing and designing. My small range of jewellery funds our Christmas days out, making the season that little bit more magical, and I for one can’t afford to whack everything on sale because all the large companies are doing so. However, aside from personal gain, I firmly believe this movement is a step in the right direction.
We don’t all need a bigger TV, a new phone every few months or new gadgets. None of us wear all the clothes in our cupboards and this Christmas why not step back and think outside the box for Christmas presents? I have started my shopping (but, by no means finished) and so far, I have barely ordered a thing online. Instead I have strolled down the road to my Cotswold town and have spent my money in the small independents, on items that have been handmade, upcycled or that are antiques. Everything I have bought has a low carbon footprint, there will be very little plastic and the gifts have not had to travel hundreds of miles to arrive on my doorstep. Most of all I am buying from shop owners that rely on sales to feed their families, or fund their own Christmas, instead of making the rich richer. There will be a few mass-produced items by the time I am finished, no doubt, but it’s a start.
I am aware this post won’t be popular amongst everyone. I am aware that most retailers in the UK now take part in Black Friday, in many cases despite it not always being positive to their business. However, as consumers we can help make the change. Now is the time to change our spending habits because climate change relies on it as much as the independent retailers. Instead of turning to Black Friday deals this week, try it, vote for #indiefriday instead.