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Namrata Zala

November 30, 2022

Reflections on Black Friday

Small businesses say ‘no’ to the status quo.

Nobody is unaware of what Black Friday is. Crazy huge deals on everything you could imagine - from cosmetics to cakes, to cars - both in-store and on your phone. It’s go-big, or go home - pouting. Sure, this is the norm for major business retailers, they’ve been doing it since the dawn of time… but how practical is it for small businesses to participate in the holiday? We’re in an era of sustainable consumption, and helping smaller players out, so can we really expect them to join in on something that could do more harm than good?

Let’s break it down. 

There is a significant environmental impact that comes with meeting demands for Black Friday. To put it in perspective, one t-shirt takes 2,700 litres to make, which is enough drinking water for 900 days for only one person. Just buying a shirt releases more emissions in kilograms than what the shirt itself weighs, for what will generally be a once-worn purchase. Imagine the amount of resources wasted for what could be a fickle purchase, bought on a whim.

"Just buying a shirt releases more emissions in kilograms than what the shirt itself weighs."

We know that excessive consumerism has become increasingly problematic to the sustenance of the environment, which is often what smaller businesses pledge to right from their execution. Smaller players often place a lot of emphasis on sustainable sourcing, recyclable packaging and building healthy networks within their community through job creation and job satisfaction. 

Though the benefits of Black Friday seem enticing - you know, more exposure, clearing out dead stock, and more attention - the cons easily outweigh them. There is likely to be a low-profit month in the lead-up, as customers anticipate the sale meaning bruised short-term profit margins. Not only that, competition is always tough against the bigger players whose marketing efforts are bound to get more attention. People are also difficult to deal with - businesses tend to face hoards and hoards of enquiries in the weeks before the big day, and in-store foot traffic can be near-exhausting to manage. 

With all of this being taken into consideration - especially this year - small business owners, such as Betina and Kelly of Me and B, and The Hems have renounced conventionally participating in the holiday altogether. Me and B opted out of Black Friday sales, offering free shipping through November instead.

“It just sucks to see our products go at a price that doesn’t always justify the journey.” - Me & B

The Hems is not new to opting out of Black Friday - last year, they avoided it altogether and instead gave consumers insight on navigating the madness and reducing waste. And this year is only slightly different. They’ve acknowledged the whirlwind the year has been for everyone, and instead of having a flash sale for one day only, they’ve offered a deal that lasts for an entire week, to further perpetuate the behaviour of shopping mindfully, so that less waste is produced by purchasing what one is totally sure of. 

“But this year hasn’t been easy. On anyone. We’re all holding our breaths for December. So we’re closing off the year with a slow sale - not a flash sale - to take a break from it all and manifest the festive season.” - The Hems

Look, killing the hype and frenzy around a good sale is nearly impossible. We’re wired to love a good deal! A good deal can also mean good for your wallet, and the environment. But when possible, it’s important to support small, sustainable businesses that are doing Black Friday in an ethical way.

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