Black Friday is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but this year there seems to be some backlash.
REI made waves last month when it announced that it would be closing all of its 143 retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. All 12,000 full- and part-time employees will receive paid time off as the company encourages them to #OptOutside instead.
Your #BlackFriday options just got even better. @Mashable shows how states are making it easier to #OptOutside: https://t.co/MFaJbQtSxd— REI (@REI)1448326563.0
According to REI CEO Jerry Stritzke, the company made the decision to close on Black Friday because it wanted to be “authentic” to its brand. Many companies and organizations have publicly supported REI's anti-Black Friday movement:
I'd rather be outside than at the mall on #BlackFriday #OptOutside https://t.co/R6ahhjCohr— American Rivers (@American Rivers)1448383138.0
LOVE this: Several states are offering FREE admission to state parks on Black Friday: https://t.co/QqNTy6Z6NO #OptOutside— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1448383734.0
Nah. Get outside! #BlackFridayIn3Words https://t.co/HjRjEeNALM— Wilderness Society 🌳 (@Wilderness Society 🌳)1448316930.0
And now the states of California and Minnesota are making it even more affordable to do so. Save the Redwoods League was inspired by REI to sponsor free admission to 49 participating California redwood state parks on Black Friday, billing it as “the best bargain you’re going to find this Black Friday," according to NBC Bay Area.
“Visiting these parks is a great way to spend time with family and loved ones, relieve stress and enjoy exercise in the great outdoors,” Smith said.
But is this what the majority of Americans truly want?
Research says yes. According to a report published by WalletHub earlier this month, more than half of those surveyed believe that shops should not open at all Thanksgiving Day. Bankrate, a personal finance organization, determined that 62 percent of consumers are cutting back on their Black Friday spending, according to Albuquerque Business Journal.
Despite the growing distaste for Black Friday, nearly 100 million people still plan to shop on the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey. About 85 to 90 million people turn out every year. Though the number of shoppers has been on a slight decline, as has overall spending, it's not as if Black Friday will completely disappear any time soon. Americans are projected to drop some $50 million over the Black Friday weekend.
But the discontent for the shopping spree is hard to ignore.
"In recent years, both retailers and consumers have witnessed a backlash against encroaching Black Friday hours," said JP Griffin Group. "For one, retailers are forced to offer unprofitable deals and pay employees for all those extra hours in order to compete with the box store next door and profits on Black Friday have been disappointing in recent years even as the economy is recovering. Beyond that, it seems most shoppers besides the diehard deal hunters are simply tired of the crowds and frenzied consumerism associated with Black Friday, and are opting to shop online."
#BlackFridayIn3Words Good luck employees https://t.co/kxd1xZgeeT— Jay (@Jay)1448376415.0
#BlackFridayin3Words - Displaced American values https://t.co/QwBo9smhyX— Robin Hood Tax (@Robin Hood Tax)1448366826.0
#BlackFridayIn3Words-Mind Control Programming https://t.co/tX3PuxJPXN— Sista Dee Barnes✊🏾 (@Sista Dee Barnes✊🏾)1448318161.0
Though Patagonia doesn't close its stores on Black Friday, they suggest customers sit out "Cyber Monday" on their website. And in 2013, it launched its Responsible Economy campaign, declaring that "growth is dead." And for the past several years, the company has been focusing on its Worn Wear program, which evolved from the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad campaign.
As part of that effort, they run the largest garment repair factory in North America—with upwards of 30,000 repairs per year. They've also invested in Yerdle, a web startup that allows you to swap items via its app, and Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss start-up that’s developing high-quality, durable textiles based on natural raw materials.
These investments were both part of its $20 Million & Change venture fund that invests in companies making positive impacts on the environment. And they took their Worn Wear program on the road this past spring, driving a biodiesel-fueled, reclaimed wood camper around the country and teaching people how to repair their gear (Patagonia or other brands), so that they wouldn't have to buy more stuff.
So how has this anti-growth strategy worked for Patagonia's sales? Pretty darn well. Patagonia expects to gross about $600 million this year, according to the New Yorker. In fact, encouraging people to buy less has ironically spurred sales. Cynics will say Patagonia's "buy less" is just a very effective marketing campaign. But the company has the environmentally- and socially-conscious cred to back it up. In addition to the aforementioned campaigns, it also "donates one percent of its revenue to environmental causes" and "co-founded the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, in which such companies as Target and Walmart pledged to lighten their environmental footprints," according to Bloomberg.
Patagonia isn't alone in offering environmentally and socially responsible goods this Black Friday. Everlane, an online clothing company, will be giving all of the profits it makes from its Black Friday sales directly to the workers who make the T-shirts in the company's L.A. factory. The company used to boycott Black Friday entirely, shutting down the website for the day. But Everlane CEO Michael Preysman said, "people just go somewhere else." By staying open, but donating the profits, "it's a way for us to be open and available for our customers while I think reinforcing the values that we stand for," explained Preysman.
The company hopes to raise $100,000 through its Black Friday Fund to create a new wellness program for factory workers, offering on-site health care, free food and English classes. For food, instead of offering free lunches like you might find at Google and recognizing that workers tend to bring lunches from home, they'll offer free groceries instead.
In 2014, the first time they tested the Black Friday program, they raised money for the silk factory that they work with in Hangzhou, China, and bought solar panels for the workers' on-campus apartments. "Every year, we come up with a different initiative and see how we can push the boundaries," Preysman said.
Companies like REI, Patagonia and Everlane are at the forefront of this eco-conscious consumerism trend that is encouraging people to rethink their shopping habits on Black Friday and beyond.
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By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich
Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.
Mapping Social Vulnerability<p>Figure 1a is a typical map of social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract level based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) algorithm of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002" target="_blank"><em>Cutter et al.</em></a> . Spatial representation of the index depicts high social vulnerability regionally in the Southwest, upper Great Plains, eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, and southern Appalachia, among other places. With such a map, users can focus attention on select places and identify population characteristics associated with elevated vulnerabilities.</p>
Fig. 1. (a) Social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract scale is mapped here following the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). Red and pink hues indicate high social vulnerability. (b) This bivariate map depicts social vulnerability (blue hues) and annualized per capita hazard losses (pink hues) for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019.<p>Many current indexes in the United States and abroad are direct or conceptual offshoots of SoVI, which has been widely replicated [e.g., <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-016-0090-9" target="_blank"><em>de Loyola Hummell et al.</em></a>, 2016]. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html" target="_blank">has also developed</a> a commonly used social vulnerability index intended to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, and after disasters.</p><p>The first modeling and mapping efforts, starting around the mid-2000s, largely focused on describing spatial distributions of social vulnerability at varying geographic scales. Over time, research in this area came to emphasize spatial comparisons between social vulnerability and physical hazards [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9376-1" target="_blank"><em>Wood et al.</em></a>, 2010], modeling population dynamics following disasters [<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11111-008-0072-y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Myers et al.</em></a>, 2008], and quantifying the robustness of social vulnerability measures [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0152-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate</em></a>, 2012].</p><p>More recent work is beginning to dissolve barriers between social vulnerability and environmental justice scholarship [<a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304846" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chakraborty et al.</em></a>, 2019], which has traditionally focused on root causes of exposure to pollution hazards. Another prominent new research direction involves deeper interrogation of social vulnerability drivers in specific hazard contexts and disaster phases (e.g., before, during, after). Such work has revealed that interactions among drivers are important, but existing case studies are ill suited to guiding development of new indicators [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.09.013" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Rufat et al.</em></a>, 2015].</p><p>Advances in geostatistical analyses have enabled researchers to characterize interactions more accurately among social vulnerability and hazard outcomes. Figure 1b depicts social vulnerability and annualized per capita hazard losses for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019, facilitating visualization of the spatial coincidence of pre‑event susceptibilities and hazard impacts. Places ranked high in both dimensions may be priority locations for management interventions. Further, such analysis provides invaluable comparisons between places as well as information summarizing state and regional conditions.</p><p>In Figure 2, we take the analysis of interactions a step further, dividing counties into two categories: those experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019. The differences among individual race, ethnicity, and poverty variables between the two county groups are small. But expressing race together with poverty (poverty attenuated by race) produces quite different results: Counties with high hazard losses have higher percentages of both impoverished Black populations and impoverished white populations than counties with low hazard losses. These county differences are most pronounced for impoverished Black populations.</p>
Fig. 2. Differences in population percentages between counties experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019 for individual and compound social vulnerability indicators (race and poverty).<p>Our current work focuses on social vulnerability to floods using geostatistical modeling and mapping. The research directions are twofold. The first is to develop hazard-specific indicators of social vulnerability to aid in mitigation planning [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04470-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate et al.</em></a>, 2021]. Because natural hazards differ in their innate characteristics (e.g., rate of onset, spatial extent), causal processes (e.g., urbanization, meteorology), and programmatic responses by government, manifestations of social vulnerability vary across hazards.</p><p>The second is to assess the degree to which socially vulnerable populations benefit from the leading disaster recovery programs [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1675578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Emrich et al.</em></a>, 2020], such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) <a href="https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Individual Assistance</a> program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) <a href="https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Disaster Recovery</a> program. Both research directions posit social vulnerability indicators as potential measures of social equity.</p>
Social Vulnerability as a Measure of Equity<p>Given their focus on social marginalization and economic barriers, social vulnerability indicators are attracting growing scientific interest as measures of inequity resulting from disasters. Indeed, social vulnerability and inequity are related concepts. Social vulnerability research explores the differential susceptibilities and capacities of disaster-affected populations, whereas social equity analyses tend to focus on population disparities in the allocation of resources for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Interventions with an equity focus emphasize full and equal resource access for all people with unmet disaster needs.</p><p>Yet newer studies of inequity in disaster programs have documented troubling disparities in income, race, and home ownership among those who <a href="https://eos.org/articles/equity-concerns-raised-in-federal-flood-property-buyouts" target="_blank">participate in flood buyout programs</a>, are <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063477407" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eligible for postdisaster loans</a>, receive short-term recovery assistance [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.102010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Drakes et al.</em></a>, 2021], and have <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/25/texas-natural-disasters--mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">access to mental health services</a>. For example, a recent analysis of federal flood buyouts found racial privilege to be infused at multiple program stages and geographic scales, resulting in resources that disproportionately benefit whiter and more urban counties and neighborhoods [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023120905439" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Elliott et al.</em></a>, 2020].</p><p>Investments in disaster risk reduction are largely prioritized on the basis of hazard modeling, historical impacts, and economic risk. Social equity, meanwhile, has been far less integrated into the considerations of public agencies for hazard and disaster management. But this situation may be beginning to shift. Following the adage of "what gets measured gets managed," social equity metrics are increasingly being inserted into disaster management.</p><p>At the national level, FEMA has <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/20200220/fema-releases-affordability-framework-national-flood-insurance-program" target="_blank">developed options</a> to increase the affordability of flood insurance [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2018]. At the subnational scale, Puerto Rico has integrated social vulnerability into its CDBG Mitigation Action Plan, expanding its considerations of risk beyond only economic factors. At the local level, Harris County, Texas, has begun using social vulnerability indicators alongside traditional measures of flood risk to introduce equity into the prioritization of flood mitigation projects [<a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/Portals/62/Resilience/Bond-Program/Prioritization-Framework/final_prioritization-framework-report_20190827.pdf?ver=2019-09-19-092535-743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Harris County Flood Control District</em></a>, 2019].</p><p>Unfortunately, many existing measures of disaster equity fall short. They may be unidimensional, using single indicators such as income in places where underlying vulnerability processes suggest that a multidimensional measure like racialized poverty (Figure 2) would be more valid. And criteria presumed to be objective and neutral for determining resource allocation, such as economic loss and cost-benefit ratios, prioritize asset value over social equity. For example, following the <a href="http://www.cedar-rapids.org/discover_cedar_rapids/flood_of_2008/2008_flood_facts.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 flooding</a> in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cost-benefit criteria supported new flood protections for the city's central business district on the east side of the Cedar River but not for vulnerable populations and workforce housing on the west side.</p><p>Furthermore, many equity measures are aspatial or ahistorical, even though the roots of marginalization may lie in systemic and spatially explicit processes that originated long ago like redlining and urban renewal. More research is thus needed to understand which measures are most suitable for which social equity analyses.</p>
Challenges for Disaster Equity Analysis<p>Across studies that quantify, map, and analyze social vulnerability to natural hazards, modelers have faced recurrent measurement challenges, many of which also apply in measuring disaster equity (Table 1). The first is clearly establishing the purpose of an equity analysis by defining characteristics such as the end user and intended use, the type of hazard, and the disaster stage (i.e., mitigation, response, or recovery). Analyses using generalized indicators like the CDC Social Vulnerability Index may be appropriate for identifying broad areas of concern, whereas more detailed analyses are ideal for high-stakes decisions about budget allocations and project prioritization.</p>
By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.