So many small businesses are Boycotting Black Friday this week (me included).
I want to say an eco-friendly Black Friday doesn't exist - but I reckon that's too pessimistic. It DOES exist, but it's a case of outsmarting the likes of Amazon and asking yourself these sustainable questions. Here are my experiences after the first 25 years of my life loving to have new shiny things. (Sorry mum).
1. Would I buy this anyway? Have I wanted this for more than a few weeks/months?
Okay - this one is the obvious one. Owning a low waste ethical store doesn't make me immune to flashing '50% OFF!' signs. I'm a sucker for a deal. But I've learnt now to ask myself, would I actually buy this item if it wasn't half price, 20% off, whatever? I actually keep a list now throughout the year of things I'd really like to buy with a note of when I thought about it first. If I see it on offer later - I know I truly want it! If I see it second hand, even BETTER. If it's been a couple of months of me thinking.. 'I really wish I owned a....' then I know for me, I'll love it, look after it, and won't regret it. I bought an ethically produced, high quality mattress this week after a year of aching backs and sleeping on pallets. Sometimes - these deals DO work out okay.
2. Would I get good use out of this or is it a one hit wonder? Could I just borrow one?
Picture this - 2018 Abbie. Bought a drill. I'd just gone through a not-sa-fun lockdown breakup and thought you know what, I'm going to stop asking blokes to do DIY. Did I think this through? Absolutely not, I only wanted to put up one shelf. Of course I could have borrowed a drill. That wasn't the point though, this was pure principle. I bought that drill. And all the bits. And various screws, the works. Turns out, once I'd learnt to use a drill properly there was no stopping me. I've used the living cr*p out of that drill. Now I could lend it to others in the same boat! As we speak though, there's a very expensive hair styler on my 'I want it' list which I know full well being a 'turn my head upside down' blow dry pro - it'll lose its excitement in a week. That's the sort of thing we're on about here. Impulse buying = NOT eco friendly. It will make you feel better for a day post break-up though.
(Said drill in 2020 lockdown action! This is the back of the store now, behind the oat dispensers!)
3. If it's a gift... would the person I'm buying it for really appreciate it?
The Boots 3 for 2 gift aisle really turns my stomach and not just the fragrances. Anyone else got a cupboard full of smellies and hair/body products, beard baubles, musical socks, daft t-shirts and glittery notepads? (No offence if you're a serial Boots Gifter). This is the side of Christmas buying I honestly sigh at every time. To me, and to anyone I've ever spoken to on the receiving side of cheap gift deals - it's all about the thought. Ideas like 'this book is something that changed my life, here you go!' or 'this is an experience I know you'd love' or 'I've bought you and organic local veg box!' (click here, wink wink) are all plastic free, thoughtful AF and show you've properly thought about it. Plus - if it's from a local business, you're gifting them too by showing your support. We're compromising at Plentiful this year - with locally made, small biz, plastic free soaps and bath bombs in our eco friendly gift collection.
4. Is it well made? Will it last?
We live in a throwaway culture, where the average item of clothing is made to be worn just a handful of times before seams fray and they lose shape. Fast Fashion has spiralled into a monster of disposability but it's not just this sector. Cheap furniture, decor and electronics all have a life so short that it doesn't only cost the planet to keep replacing them - but costs us a fortune too. 'Buy cheap, buy twice' rings so true from my childhood. I'm not coming after parents who's children are growing at mad rates or people who can't afford high end items here. I definitely won't be buying Vivienne Westwood's range with this ethos stitched into it. I'm suggesting that when we CAN afford to buy into quality, we do. We save money long term on buying reusable, good quality items. And back to furniture and clothes- often vintage is far more built to stand the test of time. My sofa was made in the 60s, I got it free on Facebook, it's been recovered a few times, and it's the sturdiest thing. FREE. This fits so much into the low waste, plastic free living ethos, too. Chilly's bottles, reusable facewipes and lotion bars to name a few.
Plastic free solid hand cream bar - we've sold these favourites for 2 Christmases on the trot, not a one hit wonder.
5. Could I get one second hand? For EVEN cheaper?
I absolutely love my local 'Buy, Swap and Sell' and 'Wastesavers' Facebook groups. When I moved house this year I was refreshing it all day. My living room cost me around £100 for TV (friend), TV Cabinet (facebook), Sofa (facebook), Armchair (friend), Shelves (hand made), mirror (charity shop). It's all been so looked after, too. It may not have next day delivery, but the most eco friendly thing you can buy is nothing - but I reckon second hand is actually first place. It doesn't make you feel like you've missed out.
What are my reasons for actually shopping?
This is a big one for me I've only learnt in the last few years of self reflection. I love to do things based on impulse for that big dopamine hit. Plentiful started as an impulse I couldn't put down. (The best impulse I've had to be fair!). When I catch myself coming out of a stressful or exhausting period of time, the first thing I want to do is shop. 'Start afresh' with my wardrobe and home - and I want it delivered next day. This is the time I catch myself most. Emotions and impulse purchases are what keep marketers in business. But it's what keeps the planet's resources exhausted and our savings accounts empty. If you're looking to buy out of boredom, sadness or to cheer yourself up, then journalling, reorganising your life, spending time outdoors, cooking something magnificent or starting a craft will leave you feeling so much more fulfilled.
Screw you, Black Friday Deals.
I'll be closing my online shop on Friday, and donating profits from the weekend to our local animal sanctuary in a heads up to all the dogs who haven't had the love that my boy Hank did - something I truly care about instead.
Shop wisely, and don't feel too guilty if you do slip up. We're all human.
Hank on that 60s sofa!