On 25th November, retail giants like Amazon will be slashing their prices in an attempt to boost their sales. The scale of discounts on offer this Black Friday is designed to create a feeding frenzy of consumerism.

Black Friday is still a relatively new tradition in the UK, having been imported from the US where it originated because of Thanksgiving weekend. It hit a peak a few years ago here, and it seems like people are now seeing the downsides – for ourselves, for local businesses and for the planet.

The first cost is to the consumer – 89% of shoppers find Black Friday highly stressful. Every year we see footage of harried people fighting over an item that, a lot of the time, ends up being bad deals. In recent years, retailers have begun to spread out the deals rather than having them on a single day because people were even getting injured in the mayhem.

Huge numbers of people buy something in the rush that they later regret – a survey found that 76% of people who bought DIY products and 66% of people who bought home appliances regretted their purchases.

Smaller retailers with more sustainable, local, personal services find they can’t compete with the artificially low prices of retail giants. Last year, 85% of independent retailers opted out of Black Friday

A further cost is that to the workers for whom there are few alternatives than taking a job with poor pay and conditions. Amazon was the subject of a parliamentary enquiry into the ‘dehumanising’ working conditions in their warehouses and the company pays a pittance in tax and their profits surge.

Arguably the biggest cost of all however, of the huge push in products being sold by big retailers, is the planet. Big retailers, like Amazon, pressurise people to buy more in an effort to boost their sales. This drive towards over-consumption means that more resources are extracted from nature and more climate-wrecking emissions are generated. Last year, the Amazon Dunfermline warehouse destroyed 124,000 unused items in a single week.

Instead of getting involved in Black Friday this year, we’d like to encourage you to take part in ‘Buy Nothing Day’ instead. Buy Nothing Day is a 24 hour detox from consumerism – started by campaigners in the US as an antidote to Black Friday, which aims to help people to tune in to the impact we have on the planet through shopping. It takes place on the same day as Black Friday – 25th of November.

As informed consumers, we can begin to take back power now by saying no to phoney Black Friday deals and avoid being sucked into the shopping frenzy this Christmas.

But to truly tackle over-consumption, governments must limit corporate greed and transform our whole economic system to a more circular model where materials are reused and less is taken from nature. 

Next year, the Scottish Government will be drafting a new circular economy law, which is essential to create the scale of change that we need. We want to see corporations forced to accept responsibility for the damage they are causing by mass producing single-use products, and treating valuable resources as disposable.

Over 1,300 contacted the Scottish Government to ask them to make this law as strong as possible. We will need to keep up the pressure as it is developed. Sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with the campaign and find out how you can get involved.