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Why I don't thank God it's [Black] Friday

Climate activist Laura Young talks to us about why Black Friday is not really the great deal it's cracked up to be.

Written by Laura Young | 23 Nov 2023

Climate activist Laura Young smiles broadly. Sparkly blue eyes, long, straight, ginger hair and a fresh, pale complexion.

Climate activist Laura Young (also known as @lesswastelaura).

Most weeks I ‘Thank God it’s Friday’, but not this one. We’re approaching that time of year when the jangles start jingling and supermarkets turn into jungles of tinsel tat. But hold on to your trolleys, before we start our yearly ponderings on the 'true meaning of Christmas', we have to make it through the quagmire of Black Friday’s frenzy of overconsumption and inequality.

I've had enough of plastic waste, the catwalk of items glammed up with extra packaging and supposedly 'mega' discounts all ultimately destined for landfill. I’m calling for a rebrand – a Black Friday Fast, if you will. The time has come to resist the deception of discount promises pushing us to desire mass-produced items that are beyond our collective basic needs. We can’t ignore that Black Friday is overstretching the planet’s finite resources and contributing to the climate crisis.

Instead of heading to the cathedral of consumerism, I’m choosing another path. One that focuses on balanced lifestyle choices that don’t compromise my desire to live in harmony with creation. Consumerism wants me to rush out and buy, and ignore that fast fashion is responsible for more carbon emissions than aviation and shipping combined. My resistance is to pause, to enact a kind of sabbath. Instead of shopping till I drop, I’m dropping to my knees and praying for world leaders who next week meet at the United Nations climate conference in Dubai to address the brokenness of earth’s life support systems and the inequality that drives it.

‘I’m calling for a rebrand – a Black Friday Fast’
Laura Young, Climate activist

While marketing departments and e-commerce platforms get ready for an extremely busy and profitable 24 hours, do we stop, pause, and think about what lies behind the colourful flashing SALE ads and too good to be true 99 per cent OFF DEALS? Because, if we did, would we realise they really are too good to be true? Are we asking ourselves who these deals really benefit? Ultimately, it is the big businesses that are making, quite literally, a killing. The savings we're supposedly making come at a cost: to our rapidly changing climate, to the natural world we all rely on, and to people in poverty most of all. In supply chains, in factories, and in the natural world there are corners being cut in order for us to get our not so needed ‘bargains’ delivered the next day. In a world where 100 billion items of clothes are produced every year, and 30 per cent of textiles in the UK end up in landfill, can we ask ourselves, what could a different way look like?

I’m feeling inspired by the notion of an economy that restores and cares for our world and its people – a circular economy sounds more restful and enriching to the soul. How could it work if each of us is able to meet our basic needs – but not at the expense of other people or the natural world? What if we reimagined a way to live where no one has too much or too little? What if the earth’s life-support systems – the animals, plants and ecosystems that we all rely – on were protected, not overstretched or harmed. For me, that would be a Friday to thank God for.

Laura Young, also known as @lesswastelaura, is a Tearfund ambassador and a climate scientist and activist.

Written by

Written by  Laura Young

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