Growing up in Canada, “Black Friday” didn’t exist, so I can’t say I ever gave it much thought. The Canadian equivalent is “Boxing Day” the day after Christmas, where stores offer, as they do on the day following Thanksgiving, many, many bargains and deals to get you in and get you shopping. So, while not as attune to Black Friday as many of my friends, I have now lived in the USA for more than ½ my life and therefore do feel I am qualified to comment and offer up some shopping suggestions. So, when my Green Moms Carnival friend Betsy at Eco Novice asked her “Green Mom pals” for a post on “How to be a Green Consumer” in anticipation of Black Friday, my wheels started turning. Check out the Green Moms Carnival and find and some great trips for going ‘green’ on ‘black’ Friday!
Let me start by setting the tone and stating that as someone concerned about waste, unnecessary purchases and trying to be a good ‘green’ citizen, I sometimes get “conflicted” about wanting to get “great bargains” at the same time as being consciousness about whether I or my children really need the “latest and greatest,” as well as what my purchase means to the “future of the planet.” I do realize that ever purchase I make won’t “break or make” our future, but if we don’t begin to think about our individual actions and their implications, we won’t ever solve the climate and environmental crisis we are now confronting.
So, while we do need to be conscious of our purchases, most of us in North America aren’t all going to live in an Ashram and give away all our worldly belongings, we just aren’t. So that being said, below is my four point “Green Shopping for Black Friday” Manifesto:
1. Do support companies that are trying to “make a difference” by being more sustainable in their purchasing, packaging, energy, materials and resources use and practices. Most of these companies are happy for you to learn about what they are doing to be more sustainable. Use resources like Good Guide, Climate Counts and CSRHUB and do buy products from companies that are trying to do good!
2. Do consider the quality and life cycle of a product. While there may be an “it’ toy this year that your child thinks she “can’t live without” consider what is it made of, will it last and keep your child’s attention longer than the time it takes to get it out of the box? As well, when your child is tired of it, will you be able to pass it on to someone else? So, no matter how great the “deal,” do consider whether there is life for that product beyond it’s box?
3. For those “electronic/big ticket” Black Friday items, think “Energy Star” when you purchase them. While that dryer, TV or refrigerator may seem like a “great deal,” it may in fact be a massive energy “suck” and actually cost you more in the long term then what you saved purchasing it on “Black Friday.” So choose wisely and choose energy star labeled items.
4. Finally, on “Black Friday” or any day, invest in the gift of “environmental consciousness” for you and your family. Sit down on the eve of or the night after Black Friday and discuss with the kids in your life why being a “green” conscious shopper is important, not only to them, but to all of us. Share this gift with family and friends, as it truly is the “gift” that keeps on giving!
And ultimately, in order that we do create an environment of real, sustained long-term change for our future that lessens the impacts of climate change that we are already facing, do consider whom you support politically. We need to consider this every day, at all levels of political life, local, regional, state and national. Please make knowing your candidates environmental record part of your own “personal manifesto!”