Some things are more important than sales.
Let’s face it: Our culture’s obsession with consumption takes its toll on the planet, and no single day exemplifies that more than Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year comes at a huge cost to the environment. While you’re being inundated with endless sales and “urgent” deals, though, these sustainable brands are opting out of the whole process.
REI’s annual “Opt Outside” movement is probably the most famous anti-Black Friday campaign. The outdoors retailer has been closing its stores and offices post-Thanksgiving (and giving employees the day off, paid) since 2015 — and this year, they announced they’ll continue to do so for good.
“Over the years, Opt Outside has evolved from a response against consumerism to a movement that has advocated for causes important to the co-op, including environmental welfare, inclusivity in the outdoor industry and responsible recreation,” the company noted in a blog post about the decision to make Opt Outside a permanent annual event.
Instead of offering discounts on Black Friday (or throughout the holiday season), Brazil-based sustainable footwear brand Cariuma is celebrating “Green Friday.” From November 23 through November 28, the company will plant 10 trees in the Brazilian Rainforest for every pair of shoes sold.
It’s part of the brand’s ongoing Reforestation Program, and they expect to reach their 2 millionth tree planted this week.
This sustainable skincare brand has been anti-Black Friday since its 2010 launch. “The allure of hefty discounts and unforgettable deals leads to mass returns, over production, and unnecessary waste; which doesn’t align with our commitment to sustainability nor our core values,” founder Lesley Thornton tells Mic. “Bigger companies use the day to liquidate surplus inventory and make up for yearly losses, [but] we only produce in small lots so there’s nothing wasted.”
This year, Patagonia’s founder and so-called “reluctant billionaire” Yvon Chouinard announced that he transferred ownership of the entire company (valued at $3 billion) to a trust, ensuring all profits will be used to fight climate change. So, it’s no surprise that Patagonia is also forgoing Black Friday discounts. In a post about the decision, the company provided resources on learning how to repair clothes and gear you already have, as well as links to buy used items and to support environmental groups around the globe.
“We don’t participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any of the other deals flooding our inboxes this time of year because we are a small artisanal business that prioritizes quality over quantity and paying our artisans a fair wage over selling out fast,” Alia Mahmoud, co-founder of this Tunisian handwoven textile brand, tells Mic.
“For us, it’s our small way of taking a stand against overproduction and overconsumption.”
We don’t want to be part of the “growth at all costs” system that places profit above everything else (and generates loads of waste), our holiday wish is to rewrite the book on what’s possible.
Night Dive gives discarded fishing nets and waste from fabric mills a second life by turning it into nylon for swimwear. “We create long lasting pieces that are an investment and are thoughtful purchases, which is why we won’t be participating in Black Friday,” founder Heather Caye Brown tells Mic. “Too many companies create cheap products made specifically for Black Friday, in turn creating more fast fashion and disposable items, and overproduction- which goes against everything my company stands for."
Moonshot is all about being “climate-friendly,” but they know there’s no such thing as a perfect environmentalist, so the company launched a three-part video series with tips on sustainable and mindful shopping. “We're all about progress over perfection...so rather than ‘boycotting’ the weekend of sales, we are reframing the weekend as an opportunity to shop local, BIPOC-founded, and sustainable brands,” says founder Julia Collins.
Terra Thread, known best for its sustainably-made backpacks, doesn’t just opt out of Black Friday discounts; they refrain from offering sales or deals on their products year-round — a decision stemming from their prioritization of fair trade labor practices and an ethical supply chain.
This sleepwear brand prioritizes sustainability and ethical practices year-round, including Black Friday. “Black Friday and big cyber sales...promote impulsive shopping and irresponsible consumption,” CEO and founder May Deldari tells Mic. “As a sustainable clothing brand, we take pride in promoting mindful shopping. We don’t promote impulsive purchases, rather, we encourage our customers to invest in high quality products for the long run.”