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Behavior Change
Anti-Black Friday Movement Continues to Promote Repair, Reuse Over Rampant Consumption

The antidote to the annual shopping frenzy promotes reuse and repair over buying new, and a more mindful approach when we do shop.

In recent years, we’ve seen a growing “anti-Black Friday” movement by retailers and consumers that counters the shop-till-you-drop mentality, not to mention the environmental impacts and product waste, characteristic of Black Friday — a frenzy of deep discounts, limited-time offers and last-ditch efforts urging you to “save” by spending more that has become synonymous with overconsumption and unnecessary purchases.

The idea of a backlash against Black Friday and what it stands for may have first been planted in people’s minds by Patagonia back on Black Friday 2011 with its full-page ad in the New York Times suggesting that people “Don’t buy this jacket.” Since then, Patagonia has continued to lead with this ethos — encouraging its customers to live in accordance with their values by eschewing the Black Friday frenzy in favor of “repair[ing] what we already own, shopping for used gear to keep it out of the landfill, or — when you do need something new — buying clothing and gear that’s built for the long haul. We also have ways you can donate your time, money or skills to the issues that matter to you most.”

REI began its own don’t-buy-into-Black-Friday movement in 2015, when it closed all stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and paid employees to instead #OptOutside, to enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends — a movement that has grown year on year. This year, the co-op made it an official policy and continues to encourage other retailers to follow suit.

Anti-Black Friday, “Green Friday,” whatever you want to call it — participating simply means following REI’s and Patagonia’s lead and forgoing the rampant consumerism-driven madness altogether; or, if you do shop, making purchasing decisions mindfully, sustainably and when possible, locally (and we don’t just mean at your local big-box store).

How smaller players can create big benefits

But how effective are anti-consumerist campaigns for the brands behind them? As sustainability expert Sian Conway-Wood recently pointed out, unless you've got the ad budget and reach of a global brand, counter-narratives against social norms likely won’t be powerful enough to drive impacts at scale. But since many people will still be shopping as we head into the holiday season, smaller, sustainability-minded brands’ advantage lies in highlighting the benefits of their offerings over that of conventional rivals.

One company embracing that approach is Scrummi – a UK-based maker of sustainable and biodegradable textiles for the hair and beauty industry. With its message of “Black Friday is bullsh**t,” the company is rebelling against the concept by highlighting the benefits of its own environmentally superior offerings.

Robert Cooper, Managing Director at Scrummi, told SalonEVO, “At Scrummi, we don’t believe in Black Friday. Our mission is to reduce the environmental impact on the hair and beauty industry, not encourage overconsumption and unnecessary purchases. Let us help you reduce your environmental impact, not add to the destruction of the planet.”

Other brands taking this route include:

  • Swedish outdoor apparel and equipment brand Fjällräven, which is encouraging its customers to instead think of Black Friday as Long-Term-Investment Friday — since “we only know how to make timeless and durable products that last.”

  • Dutch “home and body cosmetics” brand Rituals is celebrating Green Friday by offering special discounts on its refill products, to help consumers eliminate excess packaging; and for every refill sold, the company will “plant, protect or restore a tree.”

  • “Abnormal skincare company” Deciem has eschewed Black Friday for the past few years with its Slowvember” event — which encourages shoppers to think about their skincare needs, goals and regimen, and to research slowly. During Slowvember, the company offers a 23 percent discount on all products across its portfolio of brands (Niod and The Ordinary) for the entire month of November (except for Black Friday itself, when its stores and websites will be closed).

  • Men’s sportswear brand Zanerobe has partnered with One Tree Planted and committed to planting a tree for every online order to help offset any carbon emissions.

Brands donating Black Friday profits

Other brands are embracing the holiday shopping binge and using it to benefit their causes of choice. Examples include:

  • In 2014, women’s apparel brand Everlane created the Everlane Black Friday Fund as a way to support its partners and “leave the industry better than we found it.” This year, it’s partnering with The New Zealand Merino Company — the world’s leading responsible and regenerative wool supplier, which developed the wool for Everlane’s Good Merino Wool products. Every $100 spent this Black Friday will “kickstart regenerative grazing for 66 sheep in New Zealand. Our goal? $50,000 — which equates to greener pastures for 33,000 sheep.”

  • On November 21, UK-based conscious clothing brand Lucy & Yak will introduce a new, limited-edition print for its popular, organic Original Dungarees to celebrate the relationship with its long-time charity partner, the Fior Di Loto Foundation — in the brand’s continued bid to challenge Black Friday by upholding positive impact over overconsumption. 100 profit net profit from the dungarees will go to the Foundation — which is dedicated to providing an education and improving living conditions of the more than 700 girls living in villages in Northwest India — to help even more girls get to school. Across the Black Friday sales period (November 21-27), Lucy & Yak will also be donating half of all profits to the foundation, in line with its donation to the charity for “Fior Di Loto Friday” since 2018.

  • Website translation software provider Weglot will donate 50 percent of its Black Friday and Cyber Monday proceeds to charity for the fourth year in a row.

  • Women’s apparel brand Z SUPPLY will allocate all of its Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday online profits to the Z SUPPLY Foundation Education Fund. New this year, the brand designed limited-edition, online-exclusive graphic tees and sweatshirts that support the campaign.

Championing circularity

Arguably, one of the best ways to shop is to support brands and platforms that extend the useful life of existing products, rather than buying new. Just a few examples include:

  • Apparel recommerce platforms – more and more brands are embracing recommerce as a way to extend the life of their products.

  • Fashion resale marketplace Poshmark is hosting its second annual Secondhand Sunday (Nov. 26), which is focused on redirecting shoppers away from mass consumption and toward the purchase of pre-loved goods — supporting environmental sustainability and the livelihoods of individual sellers. To commemorate Secondhand Sunday this year, Poshmark is hosting an array of live, virtual shopping events – centered around the company’s popular Posh Shows feature – to encourage holiday shoppers to shop secondhand for their gift-giving needs. For every purchase made during a Posh Show on Secondhand Sunday, Poshmark will contribute an additional $1 to its partnership with veritree to fund tree-planting projects in the US and Canada, up to $10,000. Learn more at www.poshmark.com/parties.

  • Ortlieb’s repair rather than rebuyinitiative — Already renowned for its products’ durability and sustainability, Ortlieb — a German manufacturer of waterproof backpacks, panniers, travel bags and other biking gear — proudly announces the return of its annual Repair Weeks, running from November 13th to December 3rd, 2023. During this time, the company will offer its repair services at 40 percent off the usual cost of repairs for all products out of their 5-year warranty period. Ortlieb introduced Repair Week in 2022, in response to the escalating culture of rapid consumerism often associated with Black Friday.

  • Vivobarefoot’s Revivo — the brand’s platform for buying secondhand Vivos — is an industry-first e-commerce solution tailored to end-of-life footwear. Revivo allows consumers to return their used footwear for expert repair and subsequent resale, circumventing the tragic cycle of landfill disposal. In FY 22-23, over 42,000 pairs of shoes were refurbished through Revivo.

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