I used to be one of “those” people. You know. The ones who would sneak out while cooking Thanksgiving dinner and go to three or four different stores trying to find the newspaper with all the latest Black Friday deals. I would bundle up and head out 4 a.m. or earlier, going toe to toe with all the other aggressive shoppers trying to snag the best deals on toys or clothes or jewelry or whatever. I even had a plan for what stores I’d go to first, then a backup plan to go to other stores for the leftovers. Then I’d get home around noon, or whenever I was done, and flop into bed for the better part of the day. It wasn’t pretty.
Luckily, I’m no longer that person. I’m no longer enticed by the draw of “incredible deals” or the “biggest sales of the year.” And I’m definitely no longer wooed by the pushing, shoving and general craziness that ensues when some big box store is offering a Wii for 50% off. I am now a more enlightened shopper who has put the rampant overconsumerism behind me. Besides, if I’m really honest with myself, I’ll admit that those the gifts I wasted so much energy trying to snag were little more than temporary distractions that the recipients neither needed nor really wanted. To make it worse, most of them were made of non-recyclable materials made in faraway countries and likely destined to end up in a landfill somewhere.
It’s been a few years since I’ve done the Black Friday thing, so I have no idea how many shoppers temporarily lose their minds to brave the crowds, but I’m sure there are millions. I have a plea for as many of those shoppers as will listen. Do me a favor.
Don’t shop on Black Friday.
Sure, there are great deals to be had, and retailers are looking to make up for a lackluster year because of the economy. Don’t fall for the hype. First ask yourself whether you really need to be buying any of those marked-down items. Does your son really NEED that plastic Power Wheels car, or would he be happier with a gift of your time and undivided attention. Does your wife really NEED those diamonds that some child probably lost a leg or arm over, or would she be just as happy with a gift you made yourself or one handmade by a local artisan? I’m willing to bet they’d be equally as, if not more, happy with gifts from the heart than ones from the pocket.
Photo by Beth Rankin
But if I still haven’t convinced you, and the draw of Black Friday sales are too good to resist, do me one more favor.
This means supporting local stores instead of big box giants. It means buying items that are energy efficient, made with FSC-certified or otherwise sustainably harvested wood, or renewable materials. It means personal care and beauty products that are made with 100% organic or at least natural ingredients (ie. NOT your average cosmetics or perfume). It means clothing made of sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, linen or hemp. It means toys made of wood or recycled materials instead of plastic and ones that will stimulate the mind and imagination. It means shopping for vintage or handmade jewelry and goods that come with character instead of mass-produced “stuff.” It means buying gifts the recipients need and will actually use instead of ones they’ll discard in a hurry. And all of this applies as you’re doing ALL of your shopping for the holidays and throughout the year — not just on big days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Need help finding green gifts? Take a walk downtown in your city or through your own neighborhood and venture into small, locally-owned stores you’ve never been to before. If you prefer to shop online or you’re looking for good deals, check out the coupons page over at our sister site, Green Your Decor. There, you’ll find coupons good for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.
And soon to come is the Green & Gorgeous/Green Your Decor Holiday Gift Guide, filled with ideas that are sure to make the people on your gift list — and Mother Earth — smile. And trust me — these are no Birkenstocks or tie dyed shirts. These are gifts that come with style AND substance. You won’t be disappointed.