Co-founder of ethical.market, Raquel is on a mission to live a more sustainable lifestyle

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Why I won't be taking part in Black Friday

There is something particularly unsavoury about Black Friday sales.  I don't know if it's watching the chaos as it unfolds through all the coverage on the news, or if it's just the unsettling feeling that deep down we're all capable of that caveman need to prevail over others.  Even when it comes down to everyday objects that we don't even need, it's a survival of the fittest instinct but in a situation where it's just based on want over need.



Black Friday is fast becoming the norm in the UK, it's a bleak, unsustainable and unethical tradition and one that I'd like to see the back of.  My dislike of Black Friday is not necessarily the discount themselves, it's the irresponsible way in which companies get people to shop.  The impact, not just on our environment, but also on a human level, after all, if we're getting the deal of a century and the shops are still hitting their profit targets, who's paying the hefty price?

Events like Black Friday impact a person's way of thinking, the immediate frenzy companies create to buy it now or lose out on the deal of a lifetime. The fear of missing out far outweighs any logic or responsible thinking about what we need versus what we want.


I don't have an issue with shopping and I'm not here to tell you that you shouldn't, because it would be hypercritical of me. But on a human level, I do think it needs to be done responsibly, thinking ethically about how that product was made and who made it, should be a matter of habit.  What would the factory workers think if, after their hard labour, after all their sweat and tears, we treated those items as throw-away commodities that cheered us up for all of an hour.

Many of these items are made by workers in sweatshops, working in poor conditions for less than half their living wage.  A typical Bangladeshi factory worker will receive approximately £25 a month, equating to about half the living wage required to provided their families with shelter, food and education.  These workers face hazardous, cramped and unsafe factory conditions and many are forced to work 14-16 hours a day seven days a week. These sacrifices made by the workers and the pressure the factory owners face from big business are the key reasons that Black Friday prices can be cut so substantially. (source: War on Want)


On an environmental level, according to DEFRA 350,000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill each year in the UK, with only 14% being recycled.  A recent Barnardo's survey found that the average woman in the UK only wears an item 7 times before throwing it away.  These stats when you really stop to think about them, are just unfathomable especially when you consider the toil and environmental damage the fashion industry is causing.


In a world of throw-away fast fashion, we have become such habitual shoppers, in desperate need of a bargain we have lost sight of quality, and we have lost sight of our own ethics.  Events such as Black Friday are so far removed from what's ok, that I feel to be part of it just encourages more businesses to think we're behind them in their quest to squeeze factories even further, cutting corners and exploiting workers.

I actually really enjoy shopping, but I do so ethically and responsibly, knowing that I'm not encouraging a business to get me a deal where someone else will have to pay the price on my behalf.

Shop what you need and don't be afraid to ask questions. The number of emails I have sent to companies to ask about their ethical standards is pretty vast, but these things are important and enables you to place a different value on the products you own. Suddenly with a bit of research, large discounts don't seem quite as important as the value of another person.

2 comments:

  1. Spot on. Taking the blinkers off and seeing the whole picture is the key to making ethical choices consistent with our values. It releases us from simply following the herd and desiring things that we simply don't need. We can still enjoy our life choices, our purchases and our foods without being part of a system of cruelty and abuse. Power to you all at The Lost Lanes for being part of the change you want to see in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't have put it better myself, thank you so much for your support. Small steps together, we hope, will lead to big changes.

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