Black Friday & Cyber Monday Don't Suck, Necessarily

We hardly need to tell you what time it is. It’s Black Friday. It's Cyber Monday. Two frenzied, misplaced holidays that follow days of giving thanks for all that we already had.

A holiday that historically exhibits poor treatment of your fellow man: retail employees, by frantic shoppers while encouraging consumerism and materialism on its grossest levels.

But it’s easy to contribute to the pile of criticism and shame that has been dumped on Black Friday in recent years. What takes a bit more is to look past that easy critique, to the lifeline that Black Friday is for some members of the community.

It may seem crazy to post up outside a Best Buy overnight to charge the store at 5am in pursuit of a TV or washing machine, but for some people this is their only chance at affording these big-ticket items.

Critiques of Black Friday are often blind to their own classism. Yes, these buying days fuel many people's shopping addictions, but for others it is a lifeline that helps them provide for their families.

For some parents this may be their only chance to keep the holidays within their budget.

The goal is certainly to shift the paradigm. Within our culture, away from unsustainable and unsatisfying consumerism. Within our children, away from materialistic comparison. Within our community, towards better alternatives. But these shifts will not suddenly be achieved in a day or with a blog post.

However, a greater level of compassion and awareness can be achieved today, around this “holiday” and the ones that follow it. Black Friday’s ever-enumerating cousins: Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.

Small Business Saturday reminds you to shop from small, often local businesses this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday, though tragically falling after you potentially spent all your money shopping, encourages you to donate to causes you care about.

You can participate, if you choose to or need to, in Black Friday and Cyber Monday more conscientiously.

Maybe you attempt to purchase experiences rather than physical gifts with the Black Friday deals on Groupon. Bonus points because that experience probably supports a local, small business.

Maybe in lieu of Zara or Target, you use the Cyber Monday deals to give your money to more sustainable brands like Outerknown or Reformation. Or simply ask yourself the questions: is this really needed? Can I do this in a way that is better for the planet, my community, or my household?

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and hope you pass the next few days with all their catchy titles, alternatively!

How can YOU get involved? Simple!

Level #1: Share an "alternative" giving or buying idea. Start an "alternative" conversation about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday. Even the idea of participating more intentionally and sustainably is powerful!

Level #2: Try to make one switch this week! Instead of buying new pants, perhaps learn from a family member how to mend or alter some pants you already own. Instead of buying new, buy used. Ebay has Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals too!

Level #3: Participate in Small Business Saturday or Giving Tuesday! Instead of buying a frame at Target, you could seek out a local business to personally frame your Dad's old jersey. Perhaps you would like to give back this season. Consider becoming a monthly donor to Mentor Me Learning and help sponsor a child!