black friday sales

Black Friday: how to protest with your purchases

Black Friday: how to protest with your purchases

Black Friday is nigh! On Friday 29th November 2019, the biggest shopping event of the year in both the UK and the US, will be taking over retailers both on and off line. But with the climate crisis looming, conscious consumers are questioning the impact of mass discounts on people and the planet.

What is Black Friday?

Traditionally an American phenomenon, Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving – the last payday before Christmas – calling for the ultimate climax in the festive shopping season. The history of Black Friday dates back to a major stock market crash in the 19th century, and also refers to businesses being “in the black” so they are profitable enough to cover their costs while reducing prices.

It is also followed by a second global shopping event called Cyber Monday on Monday 2nd December, which is intended to be a purely online affair. Now, we see major sales throughout the whole weekend and even the whole month of November. Causing websites to crash and even mob-crazed mania at brick-and-mortar stores as people stop at nothing to get their hands on a bargain (no really, people literally fight each other.).

black friday shopping

The environmental impact of Black Friday

According to The Guardian, UK shoppers spend up to £1.35 billion on Black Friday, which causes a huge spike in air pollution and plastic waste.

As you can imagine, the soaring level of consumption on Black Friday and Cyber Monday leads to a huge amount of waste. From clothing to gadgets, shoppers across the world rush to purchase millions of discounted products that they don’t really want. Once the ‘Black Friday buzz’ has worn off, these (mostly non-recyclable) items are more often than not simply discarded.

What’s more, with well over half of all sales happening online, there is also the huge carbon cost of international transport to contend with, as well as vast amounts of single-use plastic packaging, particularly with the increasing demand for next-day or even same-day shipping. 

black friday environmental impact

Buy less, choose well, make it last

The most important message this Black Friday comes from queen Vivienne Westwood herself – Buy less, choose well and make it last! Rather than boycotting consumption all together, we’re all about protesting with your purchases, by backing brands that are making positive change in the world, not just business as usual. 

There is no shame whatsoever in wanting to take advantage of a bargain on Black Friday (who doesn’t love a bargain!), but there is a huge power in being a conscious consumer and really considering your purchases this year. Take your time to research different brands, ensuring the one you’re investing in aligns with your own ethical values, and make sure that you aren’t just buying because there’s a discount – buy it because you love it, and you’ll take care of it for years to come.

Black Friday Alternatives 

We’ve put together some of our favourite pieces from ethical brands who not only create beautiful slow fashion garments, but are socially and environmentally conscious too. From partnering with female empowerment projects and supporting artisanal communities, to planting trees and supporting organic agriculture.

WAWWA clothing

Denim overshirt | Wawwa | £110 
>> Made in the UK
>> Zero waste pockets
>> Plant-based packaging

Wynad Clothing

Unisex oversized leopard print shirt | Wynad | £65
>> 100% organic cotton
>> Fairtrade certified manufacturer
>> GOTS certified dyes

Gung Ho London

Vegetable print jumpsuit | Gung Ho | £260 (reduced from £325)
>> 100% sustainable Tencel fabric
>> Biodegradable corozo nut buttons
>> Handmade in London

Know the Origin

Charcoal grey T-shirt | Know the Origin | £22
>> 100% organic cotton
>> Fairtrade certified suppliers
>> Eco-friendly inks

Birdsong London

Red T-shirt dress | Birdsong | £95
>> Handwoven natural fabric
>> Fair wage for garment workers
>> Supporting female craft communities

Some of our brands are also offering discounts this month – take a look at these affordable ethical fashion options and take care to invest in what you love:

Ethical Hour #ShopEthicalInstead


Our friends at Ethical Hour are running a campaign called #ShopEthicalInstead across the week leading up to Black Friday. The aim is to encourage shoppers to buy from ethical brands for their Christmas shopping instead of supporting big corporations with a negative environmental impact. We’re looking forward to their sustainable shopping stream on Facebook!

Sign up to the Compare Ethics newsletter to be the first to know about the latest ethical fashion releases:

Written by Ruth Macgilp

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