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.

Remembering Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2010

“Are the trees part of Thanksgiving?,” my four-year-old asked from the backseat as we drove past a stand selling Christmas trees.

It was the day before Thanksgiving.

“No,” I started to answer, before the radio’s Christmas carols interrupted.

When did Christmas become a part of Thanksgiving?


Admittedly, Advent comes early this year – it starts tomorrow – but that’s clearly not the answer, since what I call “the commercial Christmas” bears no relation to the Christian practice of Advent, the period of waiting for Christ’s birth.

When I was a kid back in New Jersey, Thanksgiving traditions were a blur of football, parades, long walks through the fallen leaves, and of course, the feast we all still relish.  In my memory, there was a long break between Christmas and Thanksgiving…..they didn’t seamlessly merge together as they do today.


But perhaps that depends where you live. I was relieved to find the site New Jersey football, which shows high school games still being played on Thanksgiving Day.  Unfortunately, here in Bethesda and the surrounding DC area, the high school football season wraps up in early November.

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday for three reasons:

1)    simplicity

2)    unity and

3)    meaning.


I love the fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t require fancy gifts and over the top decorations. It’s a simple holiday – one anyone can celebrate just by making a lovely meal and giving thanks. It unifies us: all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. No need to worry about one’s religious affiliation or fear offending anyone. And doesn’t it make sense for all of us to give thanks?

But now, Thanksgiving seems like a few hour weigh station on the eve of Black Friday.

How are you keeping your Thanksgiving traditions alive?  Can we really counter the early onslaught of the overly commercialized holiday season?

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

A New Thanksgiving Tradition

November 27th, 2009

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts to buy, no religious differences to divide us.  Simplicity reigns. A delicious meal, a gathering of family and friends,  and an aura of gratitude for all we’ve been given  — that’s Thanksgiving.

This year I did something almost as an after thought, but it turned out to be such a moving experience that I hope to make it part of my Thanksgiving tradition for years to come.


My CSA has a requirement that members take on various  chores throughout the year. When I signed up to help with the set-up the day before Thanksgiving,  I did so figuring it would be a slow time at work, not too cold to stand outside moving boxes,  would find it hard to break away from Thanksgiving preparations  to volunteer.


I  didn’t know what a beautiful experience it would be to move bushels and baskets of just-picked food from truck to table.  It was a cold, rainy morning,  and as I shivered and wished I had some hot tea on hand, I thought about the workers who had been out in the fields that morning, picking the crops and packing them up for us to receive.

I remembered how at the launch of the Farmers Market by the White House FRESHFARM Markets co-founder Ann Yonkers stated that farmers were the most under appreciated group of workers in the US.

Suddenly I wondered if we could turn Thanksgiving into a National Day of Thanks for Farmers. Perhaps I’d contact the American Farmland Trust and suggest a new program. My mind raced with all I could do, suddenly in full marketing consultant mode, instead of in the “here and now” of the muddy, raining morning with tot soi, muddy carrots, kale, and more all around me.


It was then that I realized that we don’t need MORE to do on Thanksgiving. We need to preserve its simplicity. But from now on, part of my Thanksgiving tradition will be volunteering at the CSA on Thanksgiving week as a way of giving thanks to the farmers who feed us year round.

What were you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Any new traditions in your family?  Please leave a comment and share!