How to Shop Sustainably on Black Friday

After Thanksgiving, some sleep off the turkey. Others wake up before the crack of dawn to line the sidewalks for Black Friday sales.

The frenzy has caused some stores to stay closed and give their employees more time at home with family. This change of mind also comes on the heels of an increased concern for sustainability and discouraging the excess that Black Friday represents.

Should Black Friday be Green Friday, instead? What if you only shop on Black Friday for that one big treat you allow yourself every year—after splurging on family and friends? What if there was a way to walk the line of Black/Green Friday without getting carried away? We think it's possible, and we've got a few tips for you as you mindfully shop this holiday season.

Friday Thrift Store Finds

Tend to buy more than you plan on during Black Friday? Want to stay away from the madness? With $20 in your back pocket, you can sustainably shop at thrift stores.

Sure, it’s not fancy, but there are quality finds waiting for you at a thrift, second-hand or consignment store. Many consignment shops, especially for teens, only take items that have been trending within the last two years. Some Goodwill shops carry laptops, computer parts and other electronics. Many shops have regular sales and special ones, even on Columbus Day and Black Friday.

Check out local thrift stores and second-hand shops for fun finds, especially for gag gifts for family—Cuz would love a crazy cat action figure.

Shop Small Business Saturday

Why should big chains get all the Black Friday love? Shop Small Business Saturday instead. Local stores offer area goods and handmade gifts, perfect for the winter season of gift-giving.

Avoid the crowds. Have extra time to recover after Turkey Day. Shop guilt-free of consumerism. Support the local economy by shopping Small Business Saturday.

The best place to check for deals will be your local newspaper, chamber of commerce website or downtown association blog. Have any favorite area shops? Call them ahead of time and see if they have plans to do Small Business Saturday sales.

You can also find a lot of small businesses with an online-only presence. Many of these businesses, like EcoDiva, carry similar missions to local small businesses of valuing both people and the planet.

When Small Business Saturday comes, have your cash in hand, and head downtown or online.

Bring Your Own Bag

Whether you’re shopping on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, an easy way to shop sustainably is to BYOB, or bring your own bag—because a plastic bag takes 450 years to biodegrade. Use your cloth grocery bags, or buy one of those foldable pocket-size bags. Slip them in your purse or pocket for easy transport.

Luckily for online shopping, companies have started to shift toward more eco-friendly packaging options. EcoDiva, along with all the brands the store carriers, exclusively uses recyclable packaging.

Take it a step farther and do your gift wrapping at home. By bringing your own bag, you won’t have to worry about endless plastic bags in your cabinets or having to return them to recycling stations once you have collected a zillion.

Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets

The end of the harvest season also heralds the last few weekends of craft fairs and farmers markets. Both host local artisans and crafters and their wares. You’ll find handmade jewelry, jams, relishes, sauces, soaps, lotions, herbal remedies and clothes, among others.

The sustainability factor extends to how all vendors are sharing space, and since the markets are usually out in the open, this shopping tactic gets extra green points.

Cyber Monday

You could also stay at home, make a turkey and mashed potato sandwich and watch your favorite shows until Cyber Monday comes. Stay in your pajamas and shop Cyber Monday.

Big and small online retailers alike will host huge promotions on Cyber Monday. Keep your eyes on tweets from your favorite brands for their Cyber Monday promotions, and search for specific items with hashtags. However, to keep your environmental footprint to a minimum, try to limit your shopping to one or two stores. Many stores will offer the option to sign up for their newsletters and receive their discounts in your inbox.

Or, you could skip the hustle and bustle all together, but let’s face it: part of the after-Thanksgiving fun is finding sweet deals on gifts for yourself and loved ones.

That doesn’t mean you have to buy into consumerism, though. Make your Black Friday green, and support artisans, crafters and other small businesses.



Emily Folk
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger covering nature and wildlife conservation efforts. We're happy to have her on the EcoDiva blogging team to help us learn more about sustainability and saving our planet, one day at a time!
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