America's Black Friday phenomenon — a post-Thanksgiving shopping spree so intense it has its own death counter — has long since spread to the rest of the world. Some countries are not happy with it.
Black Friday began in the 1950s, a day when the stockpiling of American shoppers before Christmas turned stores' balance sheets from red, a loss, to black, a profit. It wasn't until the 1990s that this hallowed day of consumerism became the frenzied phenomenon it is today, thanks to the involvement of major retail chains. In the 2000s, Black Friday spread to countries outside the United States, including Britain, where Walmart's Asda supermarket chain introduced the concept in 2013.
So, is Black Friday bad for the environment? Experts say yes. Millions of shoppers buy and then throw away smartphones and TVs, for example, contributing to the 50 million tons of electronic waste the world produces each year, which leaks toxic chemicals like lead and mercury into the ground. Meanwhile, items delivered to your doorstep in one business day or less put more diesel trucks on the ground and polluting ships on the water. Producing “fast fashion” items is an extremely carbon-intensive process, but these items eventually end up in landfill.
There is debate among environmental experts about the extent to which individual decisions can make a difference on climate change. As Jason Mark, editor of environmental charity magazine Sierra Club, recently wrote, “the mantra of personal responsibility… Obfuscate the guilt of fossil fuel giants and other industrial players to fuel the crisis.” But, he writes, individual changes in consumption, travel and eating habits "are not just right but necessary".
Consumers seem to be taking notice. In a new survey by KPMG, 61% of UK consumers said they were more aware of the environmental impact of their Black Friday and Cyber Monday habits. And more and more consumers said their purchases would be planned, rather than driven by impulses or short-term offers.
But now, amid growing concerns about the effect of overconsumption on the climate, some activists are fighting back. In France, the climate group Amis de la Terre (“Friends of the Earth”) blocked an Amazon warehouse in the Paris suburbs with hay and old kitchen appliances, holding signs reading “Amazon: for the climate, for jobs, stop expansion, stop overproduction! ".
Green Friday (Green Friday) was launched in 2017 from the recycling and repair network Envie, which launched this anti-consumer initiative through an open day in its workshop.
This is an alternative campaign to Black Friday that aims to encourage more consumer activity. Against the backdrop of the global pandemic, surging online sales and changing consumer priorities, Green Friday celebrated its fourth edition at the end of November. A priori, the Covid crisis should benefit such initiatives. However, as a new Yougov poll shows, letting Green Friday take on Black Friday is still going strong.
The famous Black Friday promotion in 2020, originally scheduled for November 27, may face unprecedented limitations. And can be proud of various e-commerce platforms. However, Black Friday has been increasingly criticized for its cruel consumerism, but it has lost some of its shine in recent years. The alternating movements of this promotional rain started to make people talk about them. In France, the most famous is undoubtedly Green Friday.
The question is whether the promised consumption will still exist in this pandemic year.
In 2019, by promoting responsible and reasonable consumption, nearly 400 brands took part in the Green Friday campaign. More precisely, on the last Friday of November, the companies participating in the program promise not to lower prices to their customers, but to donate 10% of the turnover of the day to the promised association. Protection of the environment and human rights (Zero Waste France labels, Stop Obsolescence Plan, “Friends of the Earth” and Code of Ethics). Among the members of Green Friday, we find brands such as Maison Jeanne, life is belt or Altermundi. But the main players in online commerce are still very few.
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