Why Black Friday is a dark day of humanity
Today is Black Friday. Just for safety. In the highly unlikely event that the message passed you. Why highly unlikely? Even if you have had limited use of print or online media over the past week, you barely watch TV or listen to the radio, and social networking isn’t you thing at all; at least one Black Friday super special discount headline has certainly crossed your path – if only casually through a shop window or billboard advertisement. Companies and consumers who have been buzzing over the past few weeks do not seem to know any other topic. And they convey with such a striking, almost impressive penetrance that puts all the other headlines of the past days in the shade.
Spectacular break-in to a famous Dresden art collection, further unrest in Iraq or the election of the European Commission: Who cares?
What is Black Friday?
Even if this was some kind of exaggerated, the media landscape is currently reflecting just that image of a consumer-oriented society: The discount battles of the digital and analog world have started again. Every year, companies are fighting for the best deals. Every year, consumers try to be first at the garbage table. And every year the day seems a bit more senseless to us. But let us start from the beginning. The Friday after Thanksgiving is considered the traditional start to the Christmas season in the US. In the age of capitalism, that means first and foremost that there are less than four weeks left to do all the Christmas shopping at lightning speed.
People guess that the name could be an allusion to the 1929 stock market crash. More specifically, the chaos and crowds on the street who wanted to save their savings at the last minute. Viewed from distance, the scenario probably looked like a single black mass – similar to the human currents driven by the fear of sold out Christmas presents these days.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday: mass consumption without limit
As the highest-selling day of the year, Black Friday is often used as an indicator of the success of the upcoming Christmas business. And since the online trade is booming, the Black Friday hype is shifting more and more into the digital sphere. Thanks to discount codes and coupons, US citizens spent about $ 4.8 billion on online stores last year. Since this does not seem to be enough sales, we also have Cyber Monday for a few years now – an extra sale day following the Black Friday weekend, and enticing also the last people with extra discounts to buy. In 2018, people even spent around $ 6 billion on Cyber Monday.
In Germany, sales of around 3.1 billion euros are expected this year for the Black Friday weekend. Although the phenomenon in Germany has only gained prominence since 2013, consumption on black Friday rose by around 2400 percent in recent years compared to a regular trading day. That means, on average, every German acquires four products on Black Friday for a total price of 211 euros.
The raven black fashion business on Black Friday
In addition to electrical appliances, garments are most often handed over the (virtual) counter on Black Friday. This hardly surprises us: the advertising industry has been trying to convince us for several years that we have to buy more. More pants, more blouses, more jackets. More than we really need in the end. Because, and that is now the crucial point for the increasing mass consumption of our society, the mere purchase of actually useless things should make us happy. According to a Greenpeace poll from 2017, social and emotional reasons are among the most common incentives for over-zealous consumption. But the moment of happiness usually lasts briefly. What’s left are overcrowded wardrobes.
Mass consumption in numbers
- With the rise of “fast fashion” around the turn of the millennium also the fashion consumption increased: Since then, people buy twice as many clothes, but they wear them only half of the time.
- More than 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced annually – but only less than one percent can be recycled into new textiles.
- 40 percent of the 5.2 billion (!) Garments in German wardrobes are rarely or never worn.
- Unworn or unwanted garments most often end up in the trash. According to Greenpeace, every year 10.5 million tons of clothing are disposed of in the US – that’s 30 times the weight of the Empire State Building.
- The washing machines in Europe flush annually 30,000 tons of plastic fibers into the wastewater, which ultimately end up in the sea, in animal stomachs and in drinking water.
The sad thing is: Fast Fashion exploits people and the environment to thank the consumer for their trust and loyalty with one discount and sale campaign after another. Over the years, the prices for fast fashion have dropped to a level that is no longer sustainable from an ethical and economic point of view. The consequence for the end user: We get used to the fact that bargains are followed by bargains. So while at least twice a year a radical sale of the goods takes place, on Black Friday the retailers once again throws completely rebates and uses everything, what the Christmas business has to offer.
Black Friday: yes or no?
With all the knowledge that we have now, there is actually only one really logical answer: buy nothing. Generally consume less and boycott the Black Friday on principle. Anyone who intentionally renounces consumption on Black Friday does not only put a stop to the desire to consume, but also sets an example on the social level. Many companies are now choosing not to use Black Friday for higher sales. At HOLY TRINITY, we deliberately avoid the consumption-oriented values of the mass industry as well. Instead, we want to point out that the mere consumption of material things can not make you happy in the long run. True to the motto “class instead of mass”, also the value of a product matters.
And if you do not want to or can not completely avoid Black Friday, you should at least invest your money in companies that do better. For example, the Hamburg Fair Fashion label recolution has designed its own stock shirt for Black Friday, which deals critically with mass consumption. No more bad buys is written on it – which means no more senseless purchases that go at the expense of others. In addition, for each sold t-shirt they give 5 for ten euros of the retail price to Fridays For Future – for human and environmental reasons. 1
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