Black Friday&Consumerism culture
The idea of "Black Friday" connected to the consumerism culture. Originally the name traces back to 1961 and comes from the description of the situation on the roads (enormous and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic) in the USA, particularly Philadelphia, that people and cars were creating after the Thanksgiving Day. Later on, the phrase became even more widespread with a popular explanation that by this day the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit (thus going from being "in the red" to being "in the black") was represented. Nowadays, in the USA Black Friday is one of the biggest events in the retail area since shops are offering exceptional discounts (till 90 %) to attract people and as a result to gain more money. To make it more noticeable, it is a normal practice that the shops are open at 6:00 a.m., even at 5:00 or 4:00 with a huge line of the people waiting for the surpassing deals and make purchases of their lives during one day.
On the contrary, in Germany, case of "Black Friday" commonly refers to "Black Week" with sales lasting respectively a whole week. The other difference that during this time, stores are keeping their regular working hours with a slight reduction in the prices. In general, the idea became more popular here since 2013 and also refers to online shopping and Cyber Monday. The German Retail Association expected in 2018 revenues to the tune of €2.4 billion, including Cyber Monday as well. This year, "Black Friday" sales are expected to excel previous records in several European countries - despite protests across the continent that week.
Connection & Alternatives
In the capitalistic world, we could say it the perfect deal for both: companies are searching for the ways how to sell the surplus of their products, and the consumers meet their superfluous demands. Although sometimes buyers cannot even imagine that they are considerably manipulated and that their behaviour is only intruded by our long term consumerism culture (to buy&consume more increasing number of the surpluses or overproduced goods). While we want to satisfy our needs economically and socially, we completely forget about the third prominent part - ecological.
Human beings regularly put the responsibility and blame of the climate change on the big companies, industries or politicians. Meanwhile, between 60-80 % of the impacts on the planet are coming from household consumption. Some studies suggest that countries with the highest rates of consumerism had up to 5.5 times the environmental impact as the world average. With such numbers, only if we change our consumption habits, this would have a fundamental effect on our environmental footprint.
Indefinitely we should request for Green Fridays more than for Black ones! Especially taking into consideration that consumers like crazy trying to buy as much as possible and companies to gain as much as possible profit. At the same time, there is promising news from some brands that had decided to use the possibility to promote their products and contribute to society. One apparel company decided to help to rebuild the homes of the Orangutans. It launched an Orange Friday intending to collect money from buyers on the website, and after that, it is going to plant a tree with Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) for every €10 and support the wondrous work of that organisation.
By 2030, the global middle class (which is mainly supported and takes part in the mega sales) is expected to reach 5.3 billion people. On the one side, this could be a driver for economic development, on the other side changes in consumer behaviour and consumption patterns are expected to increase demand for such valuable sources as food, water and energy by roughly 35%, 40% and 50% respectively.
Climate strike & UN climate conference
You would ask me if there is a real relation between the above mentioned events (Climate strike and Black Friday). One can argue that it happened accidentally that they took place on the same day in 2019 (on the 29th of November). But, in my opinion, it shows how is our society divided, and how much we still need to do to reach the sustainable way of global development. The figures about the resources demand is extreme at the moment of a climate crisis that we are right now. To prevent it, more and more people again going out on the streets for the marches to show their positions (e.g. in Germany there were over 500 cities engaged on 29th November providing different events and support). Notwithstanding, this time hundreds of thousands of climate protesters were trying not only to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change.
Another point why people didn’t go to their work or school on that Friday, because they wanted to stress out the reconsidering glaring consumption and encourage people to stop buying unnecessary stuff and that is how contribute to the climate change. The protests are also timed to demand action during the U.N. climate negotiations, COP25, which took place in Madrid during 2nd-13th December instead of Santiago (Chile) due to extreme political and social situation after weeks of protests across the country!
Currently, we can already speak about the situation and results of the conference and whether the activists were successful to convince the people in power for the more radical action. Participants from 200 countries of the COP25 climate conference were seeking clearer rules on how to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. Nevertheless, for a reason, the conference also called talks as it was full of drawn-out debates and all-night sessions without clear decisions. Besides, it just finished on Sunday afternoon showing the need for the resolutions and debates but also direct actions! The key results are not so promising as activists were hoping and show once again the disconnect between these slow, obscure UN processes and the action being demanded by protesters all around the globe. For example, the European Parliament can have more power than can be shown with voting to declare an EU-wide climate emergency. The resolution called on the bloc to cut emissions by 55% by 2030 and become climate neutral by 2050.
To sum up, it is the complicated situation that is now existing in the world as half of the population continues to make a fortune and spend money on the needless things while others stay for our moderate consumption. Meantime the third ones just meeting to talk. The only thing we can do is to continue to spread awareness and fight for climate justice if we want to have a future for us and our children!