The trend is spreading like wildfire even in places where it was relatively unknown a few years ago. The increased availability of internet, smart phones and online stores have made it easier. Now everywhere you turn it is “Black Friday” with offers of irresistible discounts. Of course at first glance it seems like a great opportunity to save big and buy yourself an early Christmas gift.
A few years ago, I remember asking my American course-mate Shelby Zemken “What is Black Friday?” “It is the day Americans buy stuff they don’t need” he replied. At first it was hilarious but after giving it some thought, I realized that it was true. The temptation to buy something new and shiny is always great. Who doesn’t want beautiful new shoes, elegant clothes, the latest smart phone and other gadgets at a price that will gladden the heart? So it is no surprise that people are thronging to shops or in some cases waking up at midnight to make a bargain.
However, like most trends, “Black Friday” has inspired a counter-trend termed “Buy Nothing Day” an entire day dedicated to zero shopping. Some folks are asking the unpleasant questions that need to be asked:
• How can prices be reduced so much?
• Where are all these items produced?
• How are the items produced?
• Where does the excess end up – in the garbage?
More importantly, people are willing to overcome the temptation to give in to the culture of mass consumption and choose to draw attention to waste, exploitation and the ecological consequences of unsustainable production and consumption.
Behind this motivation is the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production” that ensures sustainable consumption and production patterns. Its major targets are:
• Sustainable consumption and production
• Natural resource conservation
• Less food waste
• Responsible waste disposal
• Avoid and recycle waste
• Responsible companies
• Sustainable procurement practices
• Support developing countries
• Enhance sustainable tourism
• Abolish subsidies of fossil fuels.
Knowing that a large share of the world’s population still live in poverty and are consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs, a call to embrace ethical consumption based on more efficient production and supply chains, more resource efficient economies and shared prosperity is certainly in order.
The responsibility of building a better and healthier environment is for us all – individuals, organisations and governments.