- Lily Muhlbaum
My Opinions About Black Friday
You’ve just spent the day with loved ones, reflecting on what you’re grateful for and enjoying delicious food that took hours to prepare. But, the next morning you wake up at the crack of dawn, line up in the cold, and then trample others to get the best deals on stuff you don’t need. I find it so ironic that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving.
Now before I continue to denigrate the “holiday,” let me share my experience with it: I’ve been Black Friday shopping before. I went with a friend in 2017 and still recall my anticipation as I walked into the mall and my excitement as I left with arms full of clothing. I also remember my dissatisfaction once I arrived home and reexamined at my purchases. I had just spent a ton of my money on things that I did not need, or even want. Here I was, thinking that I had just saved money because my new sweatshirt was $20 instead of $30. But really, I just lost $20 dollars on a sweatshirt that’s going to sit in my closet, collecting dust.
Shopping is addictive. A rush of dopamine from purchasing something propels people to keep buying. It’s like a sugar rush. Once we start eating something sweet, our body keeps craving it. But in a few hours, the rush disappears and you’re left feeling worse than you were before.
In addition to bruising your expectations and your wallet, the mass consumption of superfluous clothing is terrible for the environment. The consequences of consumerism have drastic effects on the earth-both in production, and also after people have discarded the items. The entire process of growing the raw materials, creating the garment, and transporting it across the world until it finally ends up in your home requires an immense amount of energy and water. In fact, “the UN projects that the fashion industry will consume 25 percent of the planet's total emissions budget by the year 2050 if aggressive production models persist” (“Fast Fashion”). And, all the investments of air, water, and land created from making garments are lost as soon as the garment is disposed of. Most people change their wardrobe frequently, so their clothes have a very short lifespan. About “85 percent of textile waste makes its way to incinerators or landfills, with harmful byproducts polluting land, sea, and air alike” ("Fast Fashion").
This stress on the earth (and the people making the clothing!) accelerates in a production system where clothes can go from an idea to a finished product in weeks or even days. In turn, we make rapid decisions to purchase items without taking time to reflect on whether we need or truly want a product. Black Friday is the peak “holiday” for this culture, perpetuating this consumerism by creating competition for the products, creating deals so buyers think they are saving when they’re actually just spending, and marketing products so well that people question how they lived before having this new gadget.
Now you may ask: Won’t Black Friday be cancelled because of COVID-19? Yes and no. While in-person shopping may be limited and restricted, the deals will still be aggressively promoted. Cyber Monday will be bigger and better this year -- in fact, many of the promotions are already under way. Therefore, there will still be the same cycle of buying, receiving, and probably not using.
So what to do about it? I’m not here to tell you not to take advantage of sales. If you’ve been wanting something functional and useful for a long time, why not pay a lower price? But be forewarned- it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of online shopping as soon as you start.
There are also other campaigns to boycott Black Friday including REI’s #OptOutside movement or Buy Nothing Day. I’m a fan of taking a hike that day to escape Black Friday and get some movement in after a big meal from Thanksgiving night. However you choose to spend that day, I strongly encourage you to stop to consider what you need versus what appeals in order to mitigate waste from the fashion industry.
"Fast Fashion: The Real Costs of Your Cheapest Clothes." University Wire, 20 Oct