How to be a Green Consumer: First, Ignore Black Friday! (At least on Thanksgiving!)

November 24th, 2011

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving most of all the holidays because of its simplicity. Eating a good meal with family and friends and giving thanks for all we have is a simple, yet profound act.

But this year, something happened on the way to Thanksgiving. Some stores opened as early as 9 p.m. Thankgiving Day, or never even closed for Thanksgiving, according to The Washington Post.  Black Friday sales are morphing into Small Business Saturday sales which are morphing into CyberMonday sales…and then the countdown of xx days to Christmas begins.

Forget the over commercialization of Christmas. That battle is lost. The new battle is over Thanksgiving. Because the fact is, the early promotion of Christmas sales takes the focus away from much that is special about Thanksgiving.

What happens when our focus shifts from giving thanks to preparing for “deals of a lifetime” the very next day?

Do we still give thanks for all that we have?

Or do we start planning our shopping sprees?

Does our mind wander to all that we don’t have…all that we could have if only …if only we get to the stores early enough. Is our conversation around Thanksgiving time about “wants” and “needs” and “deals” rather than thanks?

I thought I was immune to this. After all, I don’t rush out to the stores on Black Friday. Never have, doubt I ever will. Our family traditions used to include football on Friday – and we still try to include some outdoor time, continuing the Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks for the beauty and wonder of nature.

But this year, it seemed the promotions came early and strong into my email box, and tempted me. Did you know there’s an Iphone app where you can sort all your deals? And even my favorite afterschool Lego program is running discounts, along with plenty of green and organic merchants.

Eileen Fisher Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale

We’re still looking for a car, and a car dealer sent me a Black Friday savings voucher. I was tempted to start researching the deals in the car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner…but realized I would then fall right into the trap of commercialism, instead of the celebration of Thanksgiving.

I’m not a luddite. I make my living as a marketer, helping companies and organizations bring to market products, services and causes. But I believe that both green marketers and green consumers need to figure out how to take advantage of the Christmas shopping rush without destroying one of the most beautiful and purposeful holidays we Americans still hold dear: Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Table

What do you think? Did you notice a change this Thanksgiving?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on How to be a Green Consumer: Black Friday edition, hosted by Betsy at Eco-Novice.

7 Responses to “How to be a Green Consumer: First, Ignore Black Friday! (At least on Thanksgiving!)”

  1. Bethesda Locavore on November 25, 2011 5:20 am

    I think so (I’m still in small-kids-fog so I don’t always notice everything). Christmas came pretty darn early and I’m with you, I love the quiet simplicity of Thanksgiving. Black Friday has always weirded me out. It’s a constant struggle just to keep our possessions to a minimum with all of the little plastic things constantly flowing in with the kids, so right now I can’t even fathom wanting to run out and shop till I drop!

  2. Lynn on November 25, 2011 9:29 am

    Yes, but this year it was just so much more insidious. For the first time, I saw a posting that said something like, “For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving…”

    I thought this was one universal holiday all Americans could enjoy! But now, as The Washington Post reports, some people are spending it on line…”to save.”

    Anyway, a very happy thanksgiving to you!

  3. Betsy (Eco-novice) on November 25, 2011 10:24 am

    Love it! I was just talking to an older friend about how different Black Friday was when she would take her kids out on Friday — how they got up so “early” at 6 am to go enjoy coffee and hot cocoa at the local Payless drug store before shopping at a place or two. This was before people got trampled to death at Walmart, etc. It always has to be bigger, better, earlier — everybody has to be first, one up the last guy, just like the Presidential Primaries. Soon we’ll be starting the next round of primary elections as soon as we’ve had the final election (this is a major source of annoyance for me as well). Let’s just drag everything out as long as possible! It’s hard to believe anyone has the gall to start Black Friday before midnight (which is already egregious, in my mind), but apparently some do. Why would anyone want to shop on Thanksgiving?

  4. Lynn on November 25, 2011 1:27 pm

    Betsy, from reading The Washington Post, it sounds like a number of people really didn’t want to go but felt like it was the only time they could save enough money to finally get a 42″ TV. What do I know? Our family TV is 20 years old. Still works fine.

    I think a huge amount of this is rooted in economic insecurity — but it’s also paradoxical because some of the same companies pushing early opening or not closing at all are at other times completely concerned about their CSR image. What a wasted opportunity. Can you imagine if they had sponsored homeless shelter Thanksgiving meals instead?

    Nordstrom gets high marks for putting off the Christmas sales until AFTER Thanksgiving.

  5. Bethesda Locavore on November 26, 2011 6:31 am

    Okay, just saw this morning’s Wash. Post and now I get it. Totally insane. My favorite was the guy in line for a 42 inch flat-screen tv who said, “sometimes we need to make sacrifices with the economy being what it is … once I’m at home watching my TV, it will be worth it.”

    I recently read a Thanksgiving book with my daughter that talked about how the original feast was actually a 3-day event, and we’ve been talking about doing that in our family – just a whole weekend of extended Thanksgiving festivities – and now I feel more committed to that idea. We spent Black Friday hiking in the woods!

  6. Condo Blues on November 29, 2011 10:36 am

    While most of us like spending time with our families on Thanksgiving, I found out the year my husband and I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving at a shelter, that many people will use any excuse NOT to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving. Apparently volunteer slots fill quickly for that reason. I guess there are people who are using an Early Sale to do the same thing. Although I saw that Target customers and employees dropped off a large petition asking Target not to open as early as they planned on Black Friday.

    I don’t begrudge anyone for shopping on Black Friday. I like to save money too. I think you can shop just as mindfully during a sale as you can during a nonsale. I suspect many others do too. I know many people who do all of their shopping in one day. So while it looks like they are overconsuming – they don’t have to step into a store for the rest of the month! I know several families (and myself as a newlywed) that save money all year for items they need and are able to purchase them during the sale.

    I made most of my gifts this year but they are technically still “commercial” because I had to buy the supplies to make them – in July – during a sale :)

  7. Organic Crib Mattress on December 3, 2011 12:43 am

    I totally agree! I ignored the temptation and even ignored the circular from my paper so that my family could focus on what the day was really about. I even avoided offering a black friday deal on my website. I have instead offered one that goes through Christmas. I think the weeks leading up to the holiday are so special, why spend only one day shopping when you can spread it out and go on hunts for the right gifts, not necessarily the best deal. :-)

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