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Disrupt Black Friday: Buy Nothing, Make Something, Shop For Good

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It's Thanksgiving week, so you know what's coming after that last slice of pumpkin pie: Black Friday.

The annual occasion—as well as its digital cousin Cyber Monday—sets off the country's mad dash of holiday shopping. And let's face it, some of the deals can be pretty enticing.


But in recent years, there has been growing backlash against this retail frenzy. Outdoor gear company REI famously closed down all of its stores on Black Friday in 2015 to give its 12,000 employees a well-deserved paid day off. In 2016, fellow outdoor brand Patagonia donated its entire $10 million in Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations.

With the emergence of Buy Nothing Day, Small Business Saturday, Shop for Good Sunday, Giving Tuesday and the newly launched Make SMTHNG Week, more people are starting to counter rampant consumerism or put their dollars towards a good cause.

"We are already drowning in stuff—stuffed wardrobes, garages, and kitchens—yet we keep on shopping for more fashion, gadgets, food, single-use plastic, toys, and cars," Robin Perkins, Make SMTHNG campaigner at Greenpeace, said in a press release. "With our throwaway lifestyles we are fueling climate change, pollution and the destruction of people's homes and irreplaceable natural wonders."

Greenpeace and its partners—Fashion Revolution, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Shareable, Arts Thread, the Fab Labs Network and the Fab City Global Initiative—will be holding more than 273 events in 38 countries this November 23 – December 2 where participants will be asked to #BuyNothing and #MakeSmthng instead.

"By sharing, caring, and repairing things we can make more of what we already own and give our beautiful planet a break," Greenpeace's Perkins said about the event.

Hundreds of designers and artisans will lead classes that teach you how to reuse, repair, upcycle and DIY. There will also be workshops on making sustainable gifts, cooking with zero-waste, living a plastic-free life, book and clothing swaps and more.

That being said, there's really no shame in buying new stuff when we really need to. Giving and receiving gifts is a genuine display of love and companionship. However, there's a lot to be said about where and what we spend our dollars on.

The research firm eMarketer predicts this holiday shopping season will surpass the $1 trillion mark for the first time.

But "sixty percent of this online spending between Black Friday and Cyber Monday goes to only a dozen giant retailers, none of which are impact-focused," wrote Cullen Schwarz, the founder of the Boston-based e-commerce site DoneGood.

"Imagine if even a fraction of these holiday shopping dollars were also used to reduce poverty, fight climate change, or make the world better. The impact would be enormous," he added.

That's why for the second year, DoneGood has launched its Shop for Good Sunday campaign for socially and environmentally conscious consumers. This year, 100 percent of the revenue generated through the DoneGood platform on Nov. 25 will be donated to RAINN—the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Using the platform, you can find unique handmade accessories, clothing made from non-toxic, organic and/or recycled or upcycled materials, and products made with eco-friendly processes such as facilities powered with renewable energy. Partner brands have met standards such as Fair Trade, Global Organic Textile Standard, Rain Forest Alliance and other ethical certifications.

DoneGood itself is a Certified B Corp and 1% for the Planet member which gives 1 percent of revenues to environmental non-profits.

"The brands participating in Shop for Good Sunday just make better gifts anyway. They're higher quality and more unique than the stuff from typical big box stores," Schwarz said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. "If we can all get better gifts, save money, and make the world better, just by getting the holiday gifts we were going to buy anyway, why not?"

Disclosure: EcoWatch is among the 125 nonprofits, media outlets and social impact brands that have partnered with the Shop for Good Sunday campaign. We earn no revenue from the campaign.

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