Yesterday was Black Friday, the annual pinnacle of consumerism; a day where the purpose is solely to persuade you to buy more things and for companies to sell more things. Even if you don’t actively choose to shop on this day, your email inbox over the last week was likely to be full of offerings from companies that you have previously shopped at, trying to entice you to buy more with their “fantastic” deals.
Here at The Outdoors Group, we long ago chose to join a growing number of businesses in shunning this day, instead opting to promote the idea of #GreenFriday, a day where you go outside and spend nothing. This year, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into why Black Friday is such a harmful concept.
In her book “all about love”, author bell hooks documents the rise of materialism in the 50’s and 60’s and says “the good life was no longer to be found in community and connection, it was to be found in accumulation and the fulfilment of hedonistic, materialistic desire”. We would argue that this shift was detrimental to to our wellbeing, to the wellbeing of the planet, and to society at large. Community, connection, and love should be the cornerstone of everything we do.
The problem with consumerism and the way that companies market to us is that we are often persuaded into buying things we don’t need. Often, we replace things that still have years more life left in them, often we have more clothes than we need or could ever wear, often we buy gadgets for processes that don’t need simplifying or changing. We are bombarded with advertising everywhere we turn and even the most conscious of consumers can be challenged to withstand the clever techniques of advertising companies and businesses.
But it is vital to the planet that we do our best to be conscious consumers. We must strive to really think about the purchases we are making if we want to do our part to contribute to slowing down the devastating impact of climate change. Buying second hand if possible, choosing companies that care about the planet, sharing tools and resources with friends and family rather than buying ourselves – these are all ways that we can do our part to make a stand against pointless consumerism.
And for ourselves and our own wellbeing, we must think about why we want to buy more things. bell hooks talks about how it often seems easier and more immediately gratifying to find pleasure and satisfaction in buying things rather than doing the work we might need to do to truly love ourselves and others and find joy and happiness in the things in life that really matter. Next time you’re thinking about going shopping or making a purchase without any real purpose, take a moment to think about whether it will give you joy, whether it will give you satisfaction? Take a moment to think about the things in life that really nourish you and pursue those instead.
We’ll leave you with another fantastic quote from bell hooks and hope that this may have given you some food for thought this weekend, as the marketing emails continue to pour in…
“Greed subsumes love and compassion; living simply makes room for them. Living simply is the primary way everyone can resist greed every day. All over the world people are becoming more aware of the importance of living simply and sharing resources. We can all resist the temptation of greed. We can work to change public policy, electing leaders who are honest and progressive. We can turn off the television set. We can show respect for love. To save our planet we can stop thoughtless waste. We can recycle and support ecologically advanced survival strategies. We can celebrate and honour communalism and interdependency by sharing resources. All these gestures show a respect and gratitude for life.”bel hooks, all about love
Author: Hannah Durdin, Forest School Leader & Content Officer
Date: Saturday 25th November 2023